July 7, 2024 

Sunday Notes, Week 8: Utility wings resurge, Dream fall to lottery

It’s a light one this week

Welcome back to Sunday Notes, your weekly journey into trends and analysis around the WNBA. Today we’re looking at a couple of role players on the wing playing better than you might expect — it’s a light one this week, I know. For reference, since this notebook comes out on Sundays, I define “this week” as the prior Sunday through last night.

Continue reading with a subscription to The Next

Get unlimited access to women’s basketball coverage and help support our hardworking staff of writers, editors, and photographers by subscribing today.

Join today

Tankathon check-in

To be clear, no one in the WNBA is currently tanking on purpose (at least, the players aren’t). That being said, let’s see where our teams are right now in the lottery standings and where they project to end up (chart vaguely organized by rightmost column):

Team:Games back in lottery¹:Games back of No. 8 seed:Strength of schedule remaining (out of 12)²:Likely finish:
Washington449th-strongest (fourth-easiest)Top-two lottery odds
Los Angeles335Top-two lottery odds
Atlanta47.50.57Bottom-two lottery odds
Indiana2———12No. 7 seed
Dallas7.53.56No. 8 seed or bottom-two lottery odds
Chicago37.5-0..54No. 8 seed or bottom-two lottery odds
Phoenix currently owns the top lottery odds, but that team is going to make the playoffs
2. Per Massey
3. Dallas owns the rights to swap picks with Chicago
4. Washington owns Atlanta’s pick


I made a glaring omission last week: Ezi Magbegor also deserved to be an All-Star. Sunday Notes regrets the error.

The Next, a 24/7/365 women’s basketball newsroom

The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited and photographed by our young, diverse staff and dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives and projections about the game we love.

Los Angeles Sparks

Stephanie Talbot is back.

The combo forward broke out in Seattle as a Swiss Army knife who could hit threes, defend all over and make plays on both ends of the court, but she had a slow recovery from an ACL tear in February 2023. Through the first seven games of the 2024 season, Talbot averaged fewer than seven minutes. She shot 1-for-6 from the field over that span.

As injuries to the Sparks mounted, Talbot’s minutes increased; after a concussion suffered by Layshia Clarendon and a host of issues for Lexie Brown, her minutes nearly doubled, though her usage remained low.

Then Cameron Brink went down with a torn ACL, opening more time and usage for Talbot at the same time as her recovery from her own ligament tear really took off on the court. Talbot finished the game in which Brink was injured with nine points on five shots.

“From where she was in training camp — obviously, the first year out of an ACL injury is always difficult in this league — but [she] has really found more comfort,” Los Angeles head coach Curt Miller said before the team’s next game. “Now there’s someone that we’re really throwing out everywhere — she’s playing 3, she’s playing 4 … and she doesn’t bat an eye. She goes in there and is the ultimate utility player for us right now.”

Talbot then put up 20 points on 11 shots, 19 rebounds, eight assists and two steals without a turnover in a pair of games against the Liberty, and she has continued to stay hot since. Over her last six games, she has played more than 30 minutes a night, averaging 10.5 points on 58/64/67 shooting, 6.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.2 steals and just 1.2 turnovers. She leads the team in blocks and true-shooting percentage, is second in rebounds, assists and steals, and is third in points in that span.

And now, enjoy some highlights.

Get 24/7 soccer coverage with The Equalizer

The Next is partnering with The Equalizer to bring more women’s sports stories to your inbox. Subscribers to The Next receive 50% off their subscription to The Equalizer for 24/7 coverage of women’s soccer.

Minnesota Lynx

Bridget Carleton is having a heck of an improved season. Currently in her sixth year in the W, Carleton has always been a 3-and-D wing. But outside of a hot shooting season in the Wubble, neither her 3-point accuracy nor her defensive playmaking were previously at a level high enough to make her much more than a five-figure-salary player.

This year is completely different. After going 3-for-12 from deep in three games off the bench to start the season, Carleton moved into the starting lineup once Diamond Miller got hurt, and she hasn’t looked back. Carleton is shooting 44.2% from 3 on nearly five attempts per game, a feat that just six players in league history have previously accomplished, per Sports Reference, and she continues to be one of the better off-ball movers in the league.

Carleton’s off-ball defense has improved. Her ability to both chase over ball screens and provide backline rotations has been key for a Lynx defense that asks for a lot of versatility from its 3-5, even if her more backcourt-type build makes her paint help less impactful than that of Rhyne Howard or Jordan Horston. And while she has always been a solid on-ball defender against difficult assignments, she is holding up as a primary assignment instead of a change-of-pace matchup, which is by no means an easy adjustment.

Miller came back from her meniscus tear two weeks ago, but with the level of play Carleton is providing, there’s no reason to expect the Canadian Olympian to relinquish her starting spot any time soon.

Add Locked On Women’s Basketball to your daily routine

Here at The Next, in addition to the 24/7/365 written content our staff provides, we also host the daily Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast. Join us Monday through Saturday each week as we discuss all things WNBA, collegiate basketball, basketball history and much more. Listen wherever you find podcasts or watch on YouTube.

Written by Em Adler

Em Adler (she/they) covers the WNBA at large and college basketball for The Next, with a focus on player development and the game behind the game.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.