With the regular season rushing towards its conclusion, the Dallas Wings may be the team that comes out of nowhere and wins it all.
The Wings currently sit in seventh place in the WNBA standings, three wins ahead of the various teams jockeying for the eighth and final playoff spot. In addition, they are half a game away from hosting a playoff game at home, a place where they are 9-5. Barring a highly improbable run by the Seattle Storm or Chicago Sky, Dallas will be heading to the postseason for the first time since 2015 and for just the second time since the team moved from Detroit.
But more importantly, the Dallas Wings are the hottest team in the WNBA, finding ways to beat all comers big and small.
The team is currently riding a two game win streak with victories over the Storm and the WNBA champion Los Angeles Sparks. It was the second time this season the Wings handed the Sparks a loss and has shown that they can beat just about anyone.
Which makes them a serious threat to upend the apple cart of expectations in the playoffs.
When the season began, most were not expecting much from Dallas. The team had a trio of rookies in the form of Evelyn Akhator, Kaela Davis and Allisha Gray, all of whom would be playing a ton of minutes. Add in that the Wings have only two players with more than five years of experience in the league and you had a very young team that had much to learn.
But to the shock of everyone, the rookies on the Dallas Wings roster turned out to be very fast leaners.
Most agree that Gray will win Rookie of the Year thanks to her 12.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. Davis has followed suit averaging 6.9 points and 1.6 rebounds.
Then you have the veterans. Skylar Diggins-Smith is having a career year, averaging 18.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. Glory Johnson is not far behind with 13.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.5 assist per game and Karima Christmas-Kelly is averaging 10.8 points and 4.1 rebounds.
The Wings can not only get it done at the offensive end, as can be seen by 16 threes they hit to tie the WNBA record, but defensively as well. Head coach Fred Williams has shown a knack for being able to adapt and change as needed, with few teams being able to try the same tricks twice.
But what makes the Wings so dangerous is that they are hungry. Hungry to win, hungry to shut down the haters and hungry to move on to the next level.
Diggins-Smith is particular is ready to head to her first playoffs since being drafted out of Notre Dame in 2013. She has learned to be patient and knows building a winner takes time, telling ESPN.com:
“I try to talk to the winners; I want to know how they got it done. And players like Diana [Taurasi], Seimone [Augustus], Tamika Catchings — they’ll tell you how they got it done.
“So I’m taking their advice, doing consistent work, and not being OK with losing. I’m impatient; most players are. Who wants to hear anything about a ‘process’? You want it instantaneously, but that’s not how it works.”
With everyone healthy and things firing on all cylinders on the court, I would try to do anything I could to avoid having to play the Wings in a single-elimination game in the first round of the playoffs.
Because there are few teams as dangerous and hungry as the Wings are right now.