First overall pick Kelsey Plum has had a rough time finding her place with the San Antonio Stars, so much so a trade may be the best option.
Before beginning, it should be noted that yes, it is still very early in the WNBA season and yes, the San Antonio Stars have made a lot of changes this offseason, including a new coach, a new scheme and a new GM.
Before the season started it was understood that the team was still in the very early stages of a rebuild, one that was far bigger than anyone really anticipated. The WNBA playoffs were likely not going to happen, even if everything that was changed this offseason fell into place seamlessly.
But that all being said, it is safe to assume that no one thought the Stars would be winless six games into the season.
Sure, some of the more recent games have been pretty competitive, with San Antonio coming out of the gate strong only to falter in the fourth quarter. Wednesday’s game against the Atlanta Dream is a great example, with the Stars coming out and holding the Dream to 36 points in the first half, a new low for the season, only to fold down the strethc and losing their sixth in a row, 77-70.
And while there are many questions about just when the Stars will be able to put together a complete game, which they are very close to doing, a bigger question is starting to loom over the season for San Antonio.
What are they going to do with Kelsey Plum?
Plum came into the season as the first overall pick in the draft and a very early favorite to win Rookie of the Year. The she sprained her ankle toward the end of training camp, which delayed her debut by a few weeks and has resulted in a slow start to her season.
So far Plum has averaged just 2.5 points per game, no rebounds and a single assist. She is playing just 8.9 minutes per game and has yet to be a starter, coming off the bench in both games she has appeared in.
But the bigger issue may be just how San Antonio and head coach Vickie Johnson plan to utilize her.
Plum came to San Antonio without a set role thanks to the fact the Stars already having a solid starting point guard in Moriah Jefferson. The thinking going into the season was that Johnson would try playing some combination of Plum, Jefferson and the team’s other guard Kayla McBride on the floor together, but the few times that was tried it hasn’t worked very well.
The bottom line is that Johnson wants Plum to change her game to fit the scheme she wants to put in place in San Antonio. If that is something you were planning to do, why take Plum in the first place? Why not take a player that fits your scheme better than expect a player who had great success in college playing a certain way to change her entire game?
Now if you believe the rumors than you already know that the framework of a deal was in place to trade Plum to the Chicago Sky in exchange for Alaina Coates and possibly another player on draft night. The deal apparently fell apart when Stars GM Ruth Riley changed her mind and decided to keep Plum.
Which means that, depending on your point of view, Plum was never supposed to be a member of the Stars in the first place.
So would trading her be the best thing for both Plum and the Stars?
Trading her would allow Plum to play the game the way she wants and do what she does best, which is create scoring opportunities. It would also allow her to become the star everyone agrees she has the potential to become, but might not if she remains with the Stars.
For the Stars, it would allow then to acquire a player that would be a better fit with the scheme Johnson wants to put in place. Or, if they wanted, stock up on draft picks for the incredibly deep 2018 WNBA Draft.
Either way, it would be a win-win for everyone involved.
Trying to get Plum to play a certain way after having incredible success at the college level is like trying to jam a square peg in a round hole. You can try all you like for as long as you like, but nine times out of ten if just won’t work.
If Stars fans are being honest with themselves, the sooner the San Antonio realizes this, the better the chances the team has to try and turn around the season.