Wings

Wings Hire of Buncik Brings Familiarity

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“But what will Dallas do with all those rookies?” we all asked last April, as the Dallas Wings snatched up three of the WNBA Draft’s first five selections. The plan, it appears, is to squeeze every ounce of potential from an exceedingly young core through committed internal development.

The Wings announced the hiring of player development specialist Zak Buncik Thursday to complete Vickie Johnson’s 2022 coaching staff. His coaching credentials come courtesy of 12 years of D1 experience. At UTA Arlington, Buncik’s tenure as an assistant included five NCAA Men’s Tournament appearances. Buncik already works with a number of Wings players through his private player development program. Allowing for a seamless transition into his now-official role.

The hire seems a popular one among Dallas players and personnel, filling a much-needed function for a relatively inexperienced roster.

Who Will Buncik Be Working With?

Coach Buncik is charged with further establishing Arike Ogunbowale and Marina Mabrey as a premier scoring duo. Oh, and there’s also the matter of developing a trio of 2021 first-round picks — that too. With Buncik’s knack for enhancing athletes’ technical abilities, reigning All-Star MVP Ogunbowale and near-All-Star Mabrey could be in for their best professional seasons yet. His previous experience with Dallas’ starting backcourt (among several others) should prove a valuable asset to the Wings’ staff.

Ogunbowale led the league in made threes last year (80), and ranked fifth in average points per game with 18.7. Her 2021 campaign included a career-high 37.5% shooting percentage from the perimeter. As the primary scorer powering Dallas’ young core, Ogunbowale’s ceiling will dictate just how high the Dallas rebuild can ascend.

That’s not to say she’s alone though. Mabrey set career-highs across the stat sheet in 2021, lifting her nightly scoring output to 13.2ppg. The 5’11” guard somehow also averaged a positive plus/minus — not an easy feat on a sub-.500 squad.

2017 first-round pick Allisha Gray is still just 26, and remains one of the most consistent scoring guards you’ll find. Second-year player Satou Sabally continues to carve out a role in the starting rotation. Three extremely capable rookies-turned-sophomores are undoubtedly anxious to make their impact felt. Coach Buncik will have all of these and more on his plate heading into a crucial season for the Wings.

What’s It All Mean For the Wings?

Dallas’ future is rich with potential, but the path to title contention remains a difficult one. Coach Johnson now enters her second season at the helm of one of the league’s most visible rebuilds. She led her squad to a 14-18 record in 2021, including key wins over Seattle and Chicago.

Though the effort was enough to secure a playoff spot, this upcoming season represents a tipping point. If years of drafting talent en masse doesn’t pay off soon, this experiment will be hard-pressed to retain free agents in 2023. For the sake of the Wings, let’s hope this internal investment pays off — and does so in a hurry.

About Logan Jones

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