Wings Need Rotation Stability in Second Half


So far, the Dallas Wings have taken some fans by surprise as to just how fun they are this season. After barely missing the postseason a year ago the Wings brought in a new head coach in Vickie Johnson. They also added the top two overall picks in the draft, building on one of the youngest cores in the league. Arike Ogunbowale, reigning scoring champion, and Satou Sabally both made their first All-Star appearances. Yet, there is some negativity surrounding the feel-good Wings. The core of the problem boils down to what in the world is going on with the rotations of coach Johnson.

Rotating Questions

The Wings have had eight different starting lineups in 21 total games. Charli Collier, the number one overall pick, has been seeing inconsistent minutes from game to game. For instance, in the last five games before the break, Collier logged 12 minutes, two minutes, one minute, 13 minutes and 22 minutes. The young center has not been able to get any sort of rhythm, and her development has taken a hit because of it. Awak Kuier (number two) and Chelsea Dungee (number five) are the other two high profile rookies and they have combined to play 81 minutes thus far.

The inconsistencies are not limited to the young players. Marina Mabrey looked like the most improved player in the league over the first few weeks as a starter. After that, she has been relegated to something of a seventh woman role and has lost her flow. Over the first seven games, as a starter, Mabrey averaged 20.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists while shooting 50.5 percent from the floor and 47.2 percent from distance. Since then, she has dropped to 10.8 points, 3.2 assists and 2.8 rebounds shooting 38.9 percent from the floor and 27.9 percent on 3-point shots off the bench.

After returning from 3×3 Olympic Trials, Allisha Gray was called out by her coach, saying that the transition from 3×3 to the W was affecting Gray’s game. At the same time, Sabally was doing the same thing and was never called out in such a manner. Moriah Jefferson has been one of the few consistent starters. However, it typically is a ceremonial start, leading to her playing just 16.2 minutes per game. To say the rotations have been confusing is an understatement.

What is the Goal?

Further complicating the rotation issues is the disconnect between what the team’s path should be and what fans are seeing on the court. More often than not, Johnson is trusting veterans from her coaching past. Instead, she should be focusing on the young core she is supposed to be developing. It is understandable that Dallas wants to make the playoffs again for the first time since 2018. However, doing so at the cost of developing their ostensible franchise cornerstones is shortsighted at best.

Take Collier for example. The biggest issue with her game coming into the league was her defensive acumen. That has not changed so far this season and has often led to her being benched. Defense is the type of thing that players will only learn with repetition. If the goal is for the franchise to move forward as a consistent playoff competitor, then developing the players they drafted with the top overall picks is essential to that plan.

If the Wings were to make it into the postseason this season, it would not be as a top-four seed. It would be as a team without a bye, facing a single-game elimination. This is not a title team at this point. They will not be developing into one anytime soon if their players are not coached with some level of stability. Striving for one extra game beyond the regular season at the cost of developing the youth of the Wings is a mistake.


About Corey Rausch

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