With the problems of the 2016 season behind them, is this the season the Dallas Wings turn the corner and make the WNBA playoffs?
Record last season: 11-23
Finished second to last in the Western Conference and the WNBA
Projected Starters/Potential Subs
Erin Phillips/Tiffany Bias
Skylar Diggins-Smith/Kaela Davis
Karima Christmas-Kelly/Aerial Powers/Allisha Gray
Glory Johnson/Theresa Plaisance/Evelyn Akhator
Courtney Paris/Breanna Lewis
The Dallas Wings were one of the top storylines last season because they were a “new” team. They were originally the Tulsa Shock (2010-2015) and were re-named the Dallas Wings. Expectations were high for this team because they made the playoffs a year before. Many were expecting the same. However, it didn’t go as exactly as they planned. Even with a new city, a new arena and new fans, the Wings failed to make the playoffs. Skylar Diggins-Smith was not fully healed after an ACL injury took her out for majority of the 2015 season. Glory Johnson was dealing with her suspension after a 2015 domestic violence incident occured. She had to sit out several games in the 2016 season because she was unable to do so the previous year for other personal reasons. Texas native Odyssey Sims struggled as well.
In the 2016 WNBA Draft, the Wings drafted Aerial Powers out of Michigan State with the fifth pick which was the first ever first round pick selected by the Wings. In the second round the Wings selected Ruth Hamblin, a center out of Oregon State with the 18th overall pick. Powers would go on to have a very productive rookie season as she averaged 10.4 points in 32 games played and was named to the WNBA All-Rookie Team. Hamblin however, played sparse minutes and struggled when she was on the court. This season, she has decided to sit out the 2017 season for a chance to play for Team Canada in the future. Only time will tell if this will have a big impact in terms of not only her future with the Wings organization, but that of the WNBA as well.
In the 2016 season, the Dallas Wings had a very potent offense with the likes of Diggins-Smith, Johnson, Sims, Karima Christmas-Kelly and Plenette Pierson with Powers coming off the bench. But the problem lay with their defense. They had difficulty stopping perimeter players, and as a team struggled in that aspect. This resulted in one of the key reasons in which why the Wings could not win games. Their team defense was just not up to par. The Diggins-Smith and Sims duo also did not mesh very well and was one of the reasons why Odyssey Sims was traded in the 2016 offseason to the Los Angeles Sparks.
Last season left a lot of question marks for Wings management as well as for fans. Many believed the Wings would fire their head coach Fred Williams, but they held onto him. The Sims trade resulted in the Wings getting the No. 4 pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft after already having picks No. 3 and No. 10 in the first round. Pierson left the Wings in free agency to join the Minnesota Lynx for a shot to win a championship again. This loss was a hit for the Wings and so they have tried to fill the void left by both Pierson and Hamblin with their 2017 draft picks. They selected Evelyn Akhator from Kentucky with the third pick. They then selected Allisha Gray out of South Carolina with the fourth pick. Their final first round pick was Kaela Davis, also out of South Carolina, with the tenth pick. Two other draft picks were made which were in the second and third rounds respectively: Breanna Lewis out of Kansas State (23 overall) and Saniya Chong (26 overall).
The Dallas Wings also hired a new assistant coach in Taj McWilliams-Franklin, a respected WNBA veteran to help out their team. The Dallas Wings in 2017 are going to be different and, in my opinion, much improved from last season. Diggins-Smith is healthy, Johnson isn’t going to miss games and Gray and Davis can help improve their bench depth alongside Powers.
More WNBA: San Antonio Stars 2017 Season Preview
I think the Dallas Wings will end up seventh overall in the WNBA standings and play in the first round of the playoffs. Wings fans have to hope that the team will make the postseason otherwise some serious changes could be coming.