August 7, 2022 

Daily Briefing — Aug. 7, 2022: Arike Ogunbowale returns, prevents Dallas from spreading its wings

The Next's Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, Watch List, and Yesterday's Recap, with Arike Ogunbowale returning to poor results.

Happy Sunday! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, daily Watch List, and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 79 of the WNBA season is here, featuring the final (regular-season) game for Sue Bird in Seattle.

It is quite simply one of the most monumental games the WNBA has seen or likely ever will see — and if that wasn’t enough, it’s to decide the season series against Las Vegas. Both teams badly need this to keep alive their hopes of jumping in the standings: the Aces into the No. 1 seed, the Storm just into home-court advantage. But let’s look at last night first — particularly the contributions of Arike Ogunbowale in Dallas.

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Ogunbowale missed the past two games; but the Wings beat the top two teams in the league (Chicago and Las Vegas) back-to-back despite lacking the services of the league’s leading scorer since 2020, per Sports Reference. She returned for last night’s game against the league-worst Fever… and the Wings quickly fell behind by double-digits.

Ogunbowale injured herself in the early fourth quarter while fouling Lexie Hull, and within a couple minutes of her departure, Dallas took its first lead of the night. Ogunbowale managed to record a zero plus-minus, despite every other starter ending positive and three of them sitting at least at a plus-eight.


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How did the Wings’ lone change of adding back Arike Ogunbowale knock them from beating top teams to nearly losing to Indiana?

For starters, there’s what Ogunbowale takes off the table. She’s not a value-added passer, but head coach Vickie Johnson won’t send her or either wing Allisha Gray or Marina Mabrey to the bench, leaving Dallas with a starting lineup that lacks any point guard. This makes both running set plays and driving efficient offense quite difficult. And with Mabrey having to move to the role of nominal point guard, such lineups put her in a suboptimal role.

Arike Ogunbowale is also one of the worst defenders in the league. With Wing point guards Tyasha Harris and Veronica Burton both more than competent on that end of the court, Ogunbowale returning to the starting lineup creates an enormous dropoff in defensive ability for Dallas. Problems last night included forgetting that the most dangerous offensive player is the one who has the ball, and failing to provide paint help to Burton:

On offense, Ogunbowale is as talented as anyone in the league, and shows it a couple of times every game:

But unlike someone like Jewell Loyd or Marine Johannès, who frequently make the plays shown above, Ogunbowale pairs that brilliance with bad shot after bad shot. She sits at nearly 11 attempts from within the arc for her career, despite converting them at only 42.0%. That’s in the bottom third of all players who’ve played at least 30 games since she entered the league, per Sports Reference. It’s not that Ogunbowale can’t shoot; she just can’t help herself from taking gratuitously bad shots:

The thing is, for all the off-balance shots that she takes, I’m not even sure that Arike Ogunbowale is particularly good at them. Her upper body is never set; as opposed to Breanna Stewart, who can always keep her shoulders square to the basket, Ogunbowale’s are always moving in one direction or another in the above video. The majority of those clips are shots that come with double-digit seconds left on the shot clock, meaning that the Dallas offense is getting them directly at the expense of Teaira McCowan post-ups or pick-and-rolls with one of the point guards.


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This is all without even getting into Ogunbowale’s routine mental lapses, be they simple mistakes or full-blown tantrums. Just last night, she had plays where she began walking back across halfcourt while a Wings offensive possession continued; took an ill-advised runner, stomped repeatedly after missing instead of relocating around the horn, and decided not to cover any Fever in transition afterward; and she injured herself by running into Lexie Hull on what should’ve been a foul for Ogunbowale:

The highlight reels from Arike Ogunbowale are great, they really are. But Dallas is committing 16.5% of its cap space over each of the next years to a player who stymies the team on both ends of the court and has been this way for a number of years. It’s no wonder the Wings’ best player wants out.

But first, read:

W Roundup

The seven-day deadline passed; as of today, teams can no longer sign players to seven-day contracts.

Minnesota: Re-signed point guard Lindsay Allen to a seven-day contract, her third with the team.

Watch List, Sunday, Aug. 7

(All times in Eastern, Game Of The Day in bold)

Connecticut @ Chicago, 1 p.m., ABC

Los Angeles @ Washington, 3 p.m., ESPN+ (Local: Spectrum SportsNet, Monumental/NBC Sports Washington)

Las Vegas @ Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC — Sue Bird’s final home game

Atlanta @ Minnesota, 7 p.m., Amazon Prime Video (Local: Bally Sports Southeast, Bally Sports North)

Saturday, Aug. 6 recap

Dallas (16-16) beat Indiana (5-29), 96-91 in overtime. The Fever led by 20 in the mid-second quarter after a 24-5 run, but the Wings tied the game in the mid-fourth. Dallas took 45 free throws, 14th-most in WNBA history and the most in over six years, per Across The Timeline, while the teams combined for 74 free throws, 19th-most all-time and the most in over five years, also per ATT; the teams combined for 19 steals, part of 19 Indiana turnovers; the teams combined for 52 fouls.

Wing Marina Mabrey led the Wings with 18 points on 7-for-16 shooting (1-5 3pt., 3-7 FT) — including eight-straight points in overtime — and eight assists against five fouls in 36 minutes; combo forward Kayla Thornton had a career-high-tying 21 points on 3-for-4 from three (1-1 from two) and 10-for-12 from the line, five rebounds, and two assists against two turnovers and four fouls in 40 minutes; center Teaira McCowan recorded a 17-point, 14-rebound double-double on 5-for-9 FG (7-8 FT) with five offensive boards against two turnovers in 27 minutes.

The Fever were led by point guard Danielle Robinson’s 15 points on 5-for-11 from the field (0-1 3pt.) and 5-for-6 from the line and eight assists; backup point guard Destanni Henderson had 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting (1-2 3pt.) and six assists against five turnovers; off-ball guard Lexie Hull notched a career-high 17 points on 5-for-8 FG (1-4 3pt., 8-8 FT), three rebounds, and no turnovers against five fouls in 35 minutes.

Phoenix (14-19) beat New York (13-19), 76-62. The Liberty led 5-2 after a minute and a half, and were down 15 points just 10.5 minutes later. The Mercury shot quite poorly but held New York to 30.9% from the field and 21.9% from three; the Liberty had 18 assists on 21 buckets; the teams combined for 41 fouls.

Wing Diamond DeShields led Phoenix with a season-high 25 points on 10-for-26 shooting (1-3 3pt.) and eight rebounds; combo guard Shey Peddy had a career-high 20 points on 7-for-17 from the field and 4-for-11 from three, seven rebounds, and three assists; combo forward Sophie Cunningham notched 18 points on 5-for-16 FG (2-8 3pt., 6-7 FT), eight rebounds, two assists, and two steals against three turnovers and five fouls in 34 minutes. All the Mercury starters grabbed at least seven rebounds, the first such occurrence in league history, per ATT.

New York was led by point guard Sabrina Ionescu’s 20 points on 6-for-15 from the field, 1-for-8 from three, and 7-for-8 from the line, five rebounds, and five assists without a turnover — becoming the first player in W history to record 500 points, 200 rebounds, and 200 assists in a single season; big Natasha Howard led in the third quarter after awkwardly landing on her ankle.

Written by Em Adler

Em Adler (she/they) covers the Seattle Storm and college basketball for The Next, while also writing for The Chronicle, Duke's independent student paper

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