May 12, 2021
2021 WNBA season preview: Dallas Wings
The element of surprise could be the biggest advantage for the Wings
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In 2021 the Dallas Wings begin to lay the foundation for a more stable future. Under a new coach, Vickie Johnson, and a wealth of talent Dallas can take this season to find their identity. The fact that the team does not know who they are, yet means that other teams will not know as well; that element of surprise could be the biggest advantage for the Wings.
Last season the team finished 8-14, missing the playoffs by one game. While they had the league’s top scorer in Arike Ogunbowale; they lacked cohesiveness on offense and were the second-worst defensively. In 2021 second-year players are expected to take some big steps forward and the rookies have a high ceiling. Of course, the team will go through some growing pains; but they will not look as frazzled. With more talent available to spread the floor and take some of the load off of Ogunbowale.
The Wings won the 2021 draft; with four picks in the first round, the team was able to acquire some missing pieces. Dallas allowed the second-most points in the paint and were 11th in rebounding last season. Those issues could be fixed with No. 1 pick Charli Collier; who has already begun making her presence felt in training camp, and No. 2 pick Awak Kuier. 2020’s No. 2 pick Satou Sabally is expected to make strides in 2021 and a few more players that could flex into the five spots like four-year veteran Isabelle Harrison, second-year Megan Gustafson and 2020’s No. 5 pick Bella Alarie.
There are eight guards currently on the training camp roster for the Wings; when cuts are made the Wings should have at least two that can handle the point position. The security of the point guard is something that was sorely missed last season. Most of the responsibility was placed on the shoulders of Ogunbowale with the loss of Moriah Jefferson due to her nagging knee issues.
The security at point will allow Ogunbowale to move more without the ball and give 2017’s rookie of the year Allisha Gray room to create her shot. Gray was put on the back burner in 2020 beginning the season coming off of the bench. In 2021 Gray could be one of the top two-way players in the league.
When there was any flow on offense it was seen through the chemistry between former Notre Dame teammates Marina Mabrey and Ogunbowale. Mabrey averaged 10.6 points per game and shot 43 percent from three. Dallas also has Tyasha Harris, who with another year under her belt could help provide security for the position as well.
By the end of the season, one or more of the rookies could find themselves in the starting lineup as there will be a need for more size in the paint. While the element of surprise may be the Wings’ advantage; the lack of experience is what will keep the team from being in the top half of the standings.
This younger team will bring more energy and while they may not be able to outscore their opponents they will be able to create more offense from their defense. Every team has gotten better, the Wings should not find themselves out of the playoffs for a third consecutive season. In 2021 Dallas will squeak their way into the playoffs finishing eighth with the league knowing exactly who they are.