July 2, 2022
Dallas Wings mailbag: Offense, defense and Charli Collier
When there is mail delivered by Wings, it is about important things
Welcome to The Next’s inaugural Dallas Wings mailbag! The first half of this season has been a roller coaster for the Wings, and after losing eight of their last 11 games, they are trying to find a way to put some wins together. The fans want to know what’s going on in Dallas. Thank you to all who submitted questions — let’s open this mailbag!
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It was definitely not a one-off. It has continued to happen, especially in the losses. When the Wings get down in a game and have to work to get back into it, they stop running plays and rush shots. When the shots are not going down, they do not transition well on defense.
They trust their bigs. The team just needs to get more familiar with each other, which is hard to do when they constantly have to fight their way back into games.
Isabelle Harrison has shown much improvement, but head coach Vickie Johnson has asked her to be more consistent on a nightly basis. Harrison has struggled to get into rhythm in games, as she is subbed out every couple of minutes. Teaira McCowan is a walking double-double, but she is still adjusting to the team’s system. Satou Sabally can work inside and out and is a strong presence on both ends of the court. Harrison and McCowan work hard down low, and when they figure out how to get the ball where they want it, this team could be dangerous.
There has not been much growth offensively from Veronica Burton, though she was a bright spot in putting up a season-high 11 points in the Wings’ 92-64 loss against the Minnesota Lynx. She was drafted for her defensive abilities, and that is where she has made the most impact. She does not have to average double figures in points with so many scorers around her. She is stronger and has been able to keep up with the pace of the game. She will just have to get more comfortable with running the offense, which will be the role the team will want her to play in future.
Johnson has tried to rotate players based on the flow of the game. If things are going well for the team, there will just be subs every five minutes to give the players time to rest. Dallas gets shaken up when it falls behind or players get into foul trouble. Those fluctuations have continued with Allisha Gray and Sabally making their way back from injuries. The substitutions and rotations have not allowed the team to see what really works.
They have a defensive-minded coach with a strong offensive team. While the team has gotten a little better on defense, that has not been enough to slow down its opponents and close out games. Dallas has good offensive players and strong defensive players, and Johnson has been trying to figure out which pieces fit. There is still some time to put it all together, and if the players do get more comfortable with each other, the complementing will begin. They can get this accomplished if they lock in and execute their game plan. When things are not going the Wings’ way, they get rattled. This has been a constant issue for the Wings, but they have to be able to put pressure on their opponents offensively and defensively.
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They are saving face. They think Charli Collier can develop as well, but it will not be with Dallas. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft was thrown to the wolves last season, starting 18 games and averaging 12.3 minutes per game. But this season, she is averaging just 4.1 minutes, mostly in garbage time. The Wings organization has a trend of drafting great talent, but it has not put as much as it can into developing the talent.
Many of Dallas’ draft picks have gone to other teams and developed into better players:
- Aerial Powers, now with the Minnesota Lynx, was traded to Washington, developed offensively and won a championship in 2019.
- Former No. 3 overall pick Skylar Diggins-Smith left Dallas and became one of the top five scorers in the league with the Phoenix Mercury.
- Former No. 2 overall pick Liz Cambage has been a disruptive presence and a double-digit scorer for the Las Vegas Aces and the Los Angeles Sparks.
- Astou Ndour-Fall, Azurá Stevens and Dana Evans were given more opportunities with the Chicago Sky and played important roles on Chicago’s 2021 championship team.
- Former No. 2 overall pick Moriah Jefferson was waived by Dallas this season and joined the Lynx. Then she recorded the first triple-double in Lynx history against the Wings.
Collier could be next, as she has only played in 13 of 21 games so far this season.
Consistency is the Wings’ key to a successful season. Dallas has either gotten down early and had to climb its way back into games or started games off strong but let leads slip away. The All-Star break is just what the team needs to take the time to rest, review and finish the season strong.