Dallas Wings sign Kayla Thornton to extension through 2023

Thornton's return dovetails with Johnson's emphasis on defense

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PALMETTO, FL- AUGUST 23: Kayla Thornton #6 of the Dallas Wings plays defense against the Los Angeles Sparks on August 23, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida.

The Dallas Wings announced that Kayla Thornton signed a multi-year extension to stay in Dallas.

“I am very blessed and excited to continue my career with the Wings,” Thornton stated. “I’m excited for what is to come with our team and I’m looking forward to working with Coach Johnson as our group strives to do something special together. Go Wings!”

Per HerHoopStats, Kayla Thornton's extension is for two years at $107,040 in 2022 and $109,716 in 2023.

President and CEO Greg Bibb raved about her work ethic and wants her apart of their future.

“Kayla Thornton is a wonderful example of how hard work, determination and self-belief can produce great results,” Bibb said. “Kayla has willed her way from a free-agent signee struggling to stay in the League to one of the best, and most underrated, defenders in the WNBA while continuing to expand and improve her offensive game as well. We are thrilled to have Kayla make the decision to continue her career with the Dallas Wings and to be a big part of what we are building.”

Thornton is known first for her defense. With the ability to guard every position on the floor, her versatility defensively is key, and it is a major oversight that she wasn’t on either of the all-defensive teams in 2020.

Thornton is more than just a defender for the Wings, however. She is a leader, vital for this young Dallas team. She is the longest-tenured Wings player not named Allisha Gray, with both Gray and Thornton entering their fifth seasons in Dallas. All other players on the roster as of now have no more than two full seasons in Dallas.

Even so, she needs more help on that side of the ball. The Wings have ranked 11th in the league in defensive rating three out of the past four seasons.

Thornton’s next task is to limit her fouls, a major factor in her minutes per game dropping by five in 2020. More time on the court promises a potential reward for the Wings beyond what she’s provided to date: Thornton had her second most efficient shooting season from both the field and beyond the arc in 2020.

Teammate Arike Ogunbowale knows how valuable Thornton is to the team.

“She is our best defensive stopper,” Ogunbowale told The Next. “One of the best defensive stoppers in the league and we follow her.”

New coach Vickie Johnson has emphasized on multiple occasions how good she wants the Wings defense to be — one of the best units in the league. This added focus on defense could bode well for players like Thornton.

The Wings also made a minor trade with Chicago Tuesday, sending the 16th overall pick in the 2021 draft to the Sky for Chicago’s 2022 second round pick.

Hear more from Thornton when the Dallas Wings host a virtual press conference via Zoom, streamed live on Facebook, with Thornton on Thursday, February 11 at 11:30 a.m. ET. Bibb and Johnson will join Thornton for the virtual event.