The 2022 WNBA season is two weeks in already, which simultaneously feels like less and more than what we've gotten. An off-season filled with changed and turnover brought us to a new year brimming with questions, and I'm not really sure I have all the answers yet. The Sun and Sky, two of the premier contenders this season, have only played four games!
Like, what? Finals MVP Kahleah Copper hasn't played yet, but she has been activated after returning from overseas play, where she won the Spanish League MVP and title. Her rise over the past two seasons has been meteoric, and we haven't yet seen the reigning WNBA champions play with her active.
With the season still in it's relative infancy, this next week feels like the one where the majority of the league will finally be whole. How much will hold up from the first stretch? What takeaways matter, and how much do they matter?
Before we dive into these power rankings, a few drifting thoughts on the season that I want to parse through:
It's going to be so interesting to keep tracking Athletes Unlimited's impact both this season and in season's to come. While it hasn't neccesarily meant an uptick for every single player who participated, there have been some clear standouts at AU that have carried over their play to a degree in the W.
Natasha Cloud is playing the best basketball of her career by a significant margin, averaging 15.5 points per game while canning a career high 38.1% of her threes on career volume as well. It's only been four games, but the process and aggression as an offensive player was instilled at AU and has been an absolute boon for the red-hot Mystics.
Furthermore, DiJonai Carrington has taken a massive leap in her second year for the Sun after dominating at AU. She's in a reduced role with the Sun, but again, the process, the confidence and the steps she made there are tangible now.
The same can be said for Lexie Brown, who is averaging a career-high in minutes per game, securing a starting spot with the Sparks and shooting hot. She's shown off even more of her game as a ball-handler, secondary playmaker and defender, as well. Isabelle Harrison's aggression as an offensive player has been awesome to watch, and she's played a huge part in Dallas' solid start to the season. Then there's Kelsey Mitchell, who is somehow even better offensively this year after a great showing at AU.
It would be unfair to come out and say "because of Athletes Unlimted, these players are better," but it does stand out how many of the league's biggest sucess stories early in the season got to hone their craft through it.
Speaking of honing craft, let's do a quick run-through of Most Improved. I'm not here to give out the award, but there are so many players who have really impressed early, and it's good to take note of their progress:
- Jackie Young is absolutely killing it with the Aces and looks like the front runner for the award (and an All-Star selection). She has upped her aggression and volume as a scorer, where she is averaging 19.3 points per game this year after averaging 12.2 points per game last season. She's at a career-high efficency of 67.6% true shooting, and while it's hard to imagine it staying that high, she's currently fifth in free throw attempts per game, buoying her efficiency. She batters defenses from secondary attacks and in transition. Young has made more threes in 6 games than she did in the past two seasons combined. Young is a different offensive player this season and an absolute joy to watch, much like her entire team.
- Azura Stevens played a vital part in Chicago's stretch run last season as well as their championship victory. There are few bigs with her combination of size, skill, coordination and mobility. Her jumper has been money early (35.7% on 3.5 per game), her passing has been crisp and her continued growth as a consistent defender has been huge as well. The Sky will often run a three-big lineup with her, Emma Meesseman and Candace Parker, and Stevens really bridges that trio with her versatility. She is putting up a career-high 13.5 points per game and feels like a bona fide starter now, building upon her late season in 2021 and her bubble run the year prior.
- Ezi Magbegor is here! She's started for the Storm out of necessity due to Mercedes Russell's injury, and she hasn't disappointed. The flashes have been there the past two seasons, and she's really capitalizing on the opportunity. Her post defense is still not something I'd consider a strength, but her growth as a defender in space has been remarkable as well as essential for a team as aggressive defensively as Seattle. Now that she's averaging 10.8 points per game, 7 rebounds, and 4.3 stocks per game, the Year of Ezi Magbegor is upon us.
- Jordin Canada is finally a starter, and she is not leaving anything on the table. Her defense remains immaculate, putting pressure on ball-handlers like few can. The Sparks are still looking to find their way offensively, and Canada's ability to probe the lane and create out-of-ball screens is one of the few staples that feels workable in the halfcourt. Career highs across the board and impactful play put Canada rightfully in the conversation for MIP.
- Jessica Shepard is on track to have played more minutes this season than she did all of last year by the end of May. Her passing has been awesome (4.1 assists per game), especially as the Lynx have struggled to generate much rim pressure prior to Kayla McBride's return. Shepard's rebounding (5th in the league in boards per game) has been huge, and she's shown some efficacy as a pick and pop option. Her handoffs and ability to operate the high post as a passer are so fun to watch, and it's great to see her healthy!
- Natasha Cloud definitely has a great case as well, as alluded to above. After two weeks, Dana Evans is in the conversation, as well.
Last thing: pace is still up, but it has fallen a bit. The Indiana Fever currently are playing at the highest pace in league history for a single season (86.6 possessions for each team per 40 minutes) per HerHoopStats, surpassing the 2007 Phoenix Mercury. (If you don't already, please, go sub to the great people at HerHoopStats.)
The Atlanta Dream, Las Vegas Aces and Connecticut Sun are all playing at Top-25 levels of historical pace to start the year, as well. The Aces also have the second highest offensive rating in league history and continue to hum.
Six teams in the league currently rank in the top 16 all-time in three point rate for a single season. So while it is early, pace, spacing and shooting continue to find even greater emphasis.
1. Las Vegas Aces (6-1) 109.9 O-Rating, 96.6 D-Rating
I had the Aces ranked second, and then I looked up and they'd hung 38 points in a quarter on the Mercury.
This team is nutty. Every game, they put together one of those runs where the opposition looks helpless. The shot-making has been otherworldly (Oh hey, they currently have the most efficient offense of all-time per HerHoopStats), but my god, the passing. Every single player in the starting five moves the ball and also moves themselves. The relocation is such a key aspect.
Nice little look at the Aces' flow offense in a single possession— Mark Schindler (@MG_Schindler) May 20, 2022
Attack first action before the clock has even wound down to 20
Young walled off, Plum relocate to the weak side
Ball back to Gray, Hamby to the corner, A'ja come to screen and then dive as Plum spaces corner pic.twitter.com/PiwyyTSanq
It's extremely difficult to defend a team this talented, but it's even harder to defend a team this talented that's consistently in flux. If they're in flux, so are you!
So much starts with Kelsey Plum, who masters the toggling of on-and-off ball play at the guard spot.
Kelsey Plum is pretty damn good folks— Mark Schindler (@MG_Schindler) May 20, 2022
Her movement with and without the ball and ability to really mesh the two is so impressive pic.twitter.com/DOE346cacG
She's en route to her first All-Star berth if this keeps up even moderately (she just dropped 24 on the Mercury).
We hit on Jackie Young earlier.
We also hit on A'ja Wilson's defense recently. She's primed for a run at DPOY and has been a looming reason for their success as a smaller but quicker and more agile defense. Pound for pound, Dearica Hamby has been nearly as important as a turnkey defender, covering seemingly any assignment effectively. Her rebounding has been wild to watch (she's literally the leading rebounder in the W), and she's constantly kicking the Aces into transition.
I am continually impresed by Chelsea Gray. As much as this team relies on pace to punish defenses, Gray has expertly meshed her halfcourt wizardry into the offense. If the Aces need a quick pick-and-roll or an isolation after an initial action dies, Gray has answered the call.
I know the Mystics won these teams' first matchup of the season, so perhaps it feels unfair to put the Aces over them. I watch this Aces team, and the number one ranking is palpable. I'm there with them in spite of that loss. Considering the way they took out Atlanta after the Mystics game, still on the road, I think this team has the juice right now. It's a pleasure to watch. I'm splitting hairs, but Aces take the top spot just slightly over Washington.
2. Washington Mystics (5-1) 103.3 O-Rating, 92.2 D-Rating
This Mystics team has the sauce. Even in a game without Elena Delle Donne against a strong defensive-minded Dream team, they were able to cobble together enough on both ends to draw out a victory.
Natasha Cloud's play has been excpetional, even though she and Delle Donne have both missed two games. Meanwhile, Ariel Atkins keeps upping the bar as a shot-maker. Everytime I start thinking, "I wish Ariel would get to the rim more," she hits a fader off one leg going out of bounds. She's such a fantastic release valve on this team.
The defense of the Mystics as a whole has been smothering. Delle Donne's rim protection has popped in a way I truly didn't expect coming back from her layoff. Atkins and Cloud are All-League caliber defenders, as is Alysha Clark who recently returned. Their perimeter is so sturdy and fiesty.
The frontcourt versatility Washington has at their disposal is kind of unreal. Delle Donne is a skeleton key on either end. Myisha Hines-Allen brings so much in seemingly every facet of the game, such as her playmaking and ability to bully smaller frontcourt players. Plus, she has coverage versatility on the other end. Tianna Hawkins has struggled from deep early, but her ability to toggle between multiple positions and attack out off drives or run handoffs has been vital for the offense.
Shakira Austin adds an entire other element with her length and shot-blocking, as well as her screen-and-roll proficiency on the other end. Elizabeth Williams just returned against the Aces and adds what will likely be Washington's best post defender and another rim deterent.
Washington has overwhelming talent, showcases some of the best collective playmaking in the league and still has room to grow as rotations and lineup constructions round out. This team presents so many problems for any team they face, while possessing the answers for most anything they've come across.
3. Connecticut Sun (3-1) 101.2 O-Rating, 88.7 D-Rating
Let me see if you've heard this one before: the Connecticut Sun are absolutely dominating with defense. It's a small sample size, but the Sun are currently on pace to be the first team since the 2015 Liberty to have a sub-90 Defensive Rating (last year's team had a 90.1 Defensive Rating). It isn't likely to hold up, but it puts hammer to anvil in pointing out the defensive juggernaut this team continues to be.
Their size is imposing, and their length is second to none. It's so hard to attack them in the halfcourt.
What's really made them impressive has been a concerted adjustment to open up and run themselves. This team was dead last in pace last season, and they've jettisoned up to fourth this season. How? Look no further than Alyssa Thomas' return.
I had no questions about her talent but was curious on her integration now that the full Sun frontcourt would be all together.
Thomas has been essential in their defense with her own play, but also with her aggression pushing the breaking. If there is a miss or a turnover forced, Thomas is sprinting full force.
Even if she doesn't get baskets to fall, Thomas is eating at the line, currently averaging 6.8 free throw attempts per game, unsurprisingly the lead mark in the league. While it would be unfair to assume she'll keep that number so high, what she's doing to get to the line is definitely replicable.
She's always going downhill, whether it be in transition or in the halfcourt. Thomas has been empowered as a screener often to limit how often she's spaced, but also to take advantage of her ability to put pressure on the rim.
Her footwork is so good, and she's just too powerful for most wings or smaller forwards.
Courtney Williams has only played two games, and it'll be exciting to track how she impacts the Sun offense as they seek to rectify some of the things they struggled with last postseason.
Their schedule has been fairly easy early and not frontloaded in the slightest travel-wise, so how they respond to this next two-week stretch will be exciting. They take on the Fever before the Wings back-to-back, then the Mystics and then a four-game away slate with the Aces (x2), Mercury and Storm.
4. Seattle Storm (3-3) 95.1 O-Rating, 95.8 D-Rating
It would be unfair to discount the two games the Storm dropped to the Mercury, but the Storm have been back to looking like a contender since Breanna Stewart returned from health and safety protocols.
Sue Bird has struggled mightily inside the arc to start the year, but she's still bombing away from three and her passing has been as incredible as ever. I still have no idea how she makes some of the reads she does.
Ezi Magbegor is taking the leap.
Breanna Stewart is back from injury and absolutely killing it. Her defense in Seattle's aggressive hedge and trapping scheme has impressed, as usual. Her shot creation and touch have been phenomenal. The matchup with her and Nneka Ogwumike recently was perhaps my favorite shot-trading battle of the season thus far.
This is just nasty from Jewell Loyd— Mark Schindler (@MG_Schindler) May 20, 2022
The cross off a dime into a tight floater, man pic.twitter.com/kbDfTHfHwh
Jewell Loyd is effortless and wills the ball into the basket. If I had to bet my life savings on one person in the W making a contested bucket, I'm calling Jewell Loyd. Her defense remains underrated. She's so solid on that end and navigates screens incredibly well.
My biggest question is Gabby Williams. I love what she brings. The defense has been awesome, and her point-of-attack defense with her size is something this team has truly lacked. Yet, I still am not sure how she fits in offensively. She's taking and making threes at a decent rate, albeit on low volume, but defenses don't care. She's struggled on the interior, although I'd imagine she finishes better as the season goes on. For a team with championship goals, it's worth keeping tabs on how Williams' offense continues to look and develop throughout the season.
This team is primed for a great season, but health will be vital. Mercedes Russell will be back in due time to help out with more sizable matchups and add some versatility in the frontcourt.
5. Chicago Sky (2-2) 100 O-Rating, 92.9 D-Rating
It feels egregious to have the reigning champs ranked fifth, but it's a new season and they've earned their placement after their recent loss to the Storm. They're a much better team than their record indicates, however.
The Sky are 2-2 without having Kahleah Copper back. Julie Allemand, a rookie during the bubble and one of the better shooters and playmakers in the league, is coming over late, as well.
What the Sky have flashed without two of their top-nine rotation players has been ridiculous.
They have three of the 15 best passers in the league, and that may be underselling depending upon where you fall on Emma Meesseman's playmaking. The motion of the offense with the high post playmaking and hand-off heavy offense run by Candace Parker and Meesseman has been stellar. The wings on this team move well off the ball and are adept as cutters, taking the right and open shots or moving the ball if not open. Rebekah Gardner has been remarkable on either end, asserting herself as a top-notch role player.
The loss against the Sparks was marked by a willingness to test the offense and what this team can be. James Wade has dived into experimenting early, and the Sky have benefitted greatly.
New game, same aggressive Dana Evans!— Mark Schindler (@MG_Schindler) May 12, 2022
Love how she uses a quick stutter to give herself a half second for the show from Cubaj to either commit or evaporate
Show returns, Evans jets to the rim pic.twitter.com/pyEUHT0Dwb
Dana Evans contineus to be aggressive as a scorer, although finding her balance as a playmaker will be interesting to see as her role likely changes with Copper's return.
Again, without Copper, the team is rather bereft of wings outside Gardner. They have so many more line-ups to try and test out, and they'll be the best ones they're capable of putting on the hardwood.
The Sky are coming.
6. Atlanta Dream (4-2) 93.5 O-Rating, 92.1 D-Rating
The Dream have been one of the foremost stories of the W season.
The veteran presence has been huge as Cheyenne Parker has set the tone on either end. If the Dream struggle in the halfcourt, she's had answers. She's averaging a career-high in blocks, and her activity on that end has been essential for a team thriving on its defense early.
Erica Wheeler's shooting hasn't fully been there yet, but I've been impressed with how she's come in and focused on setting up the rest of the Dream. Nia Coffey has been fantastic defensively, as well.
The youth wave is on in Atlanta, with Kristy Wallace starting in the backcourt as a rookie, impressing with her point-of-attack defense and ability to run the offense. Aari McDonald full court presses like no other, and her flashes of shot creation off the bounce have been tantalizing.
Rhyne Howard is the truth, and she is a superstar in the making (please keep in mind that growing pains exist, though). Howard has had some struggles inside the arc and getting to the rim, but the flashes of her ability to get downhill are bright. How she grows in her counters will be a joy to watch develop.
I've loved how she has been utilized as an off-ball scorer, operating off of screens and actions that use her speed and quickness. Her shooting has translated in an absurd way.
Rhyne Howard with the between the legs snatch back 3 pic.twitter.com/S1OOwTUVtb— Mark Schindler (@MG_Schindler) May 8, 2022
Threes off of movement, side-steps, step-backs and pull-ups off of dribble combinations are all in her wheelhouse.
The Dream match up with the Mystics again on Tuesday, this time in Washington. This next stretch of play will be huge in determining what kind of team they're primed to be this season as they take on numerous playoff hopefuls.
7. Dallas Wings (4-2) 100.2 O-Rating, 96.1 D-Rating
Even with a winning record, I'm not sure what to make of the Wings. I really like them and am enticed by some of the developments of the roster.
I mentioned Isabelle Harrison at the top and am really excited to see what she looks like playing more at the four. Satou Sabally just returned against the Lynx last night and put up 11 points and 5 boards in 19 minutes off the bench. That duo has a lot to like with their playmaking and skill in tandem, along with great mobility on the defensive end. I can't wait to see more of them on court together.
Marina Mabrey's had a pretty electric start to the season for the Wings— Mark Schindler (@MG_Schindler) May 18, 2022
Her self-created jumpers have been money early in the season
Averaging 15 ppg on 65.9% True-shooting pic.twitter.com/nK2XiJbFmx
Marina Mabrey has been stellar to open up the season.
Her shot's been crisp, and her pick-and-roll playmaking continues to improve. I've been impressed by her comfort operating out of ball screens to start the year. She's been automatic when taking what's given to her. If she gets an under, she cashes the jumper. Get separation from the screen and the big steps up, she'll pull-up inside the arc. She'll attack smaller guards and pinpoint the best opportunities to gouge a defense every trip down when she runs the offense, something we saw time and time again when they played the Liberty.
Alisha Gray's shot creation is fun, as well, but her defense has been awesome to start the year. Did you see this block? You should see this block:
There are the bones and foundation of a playoff team here, but where do they set themselves apart?
I lean into what this team can be defensively. I love some of the activity they show and the size they have on the wings. Shoutout to rookie Veronica Burton, who has been fiesty on that end. While it would be unfair to pin this all on one player, Arike Ogunbowale's defense has to be better if this Dallas team is going to take another step in the right direction.
If you follow the W even slightly, you know how good a player Arike is and her ability to torture defenses with her shot-making and handle. We've seen where that can get the Wings on its own, as they made the postseason last year and lost to the Sky.
So often this season, the Wings will string together solid moments of containment and prevent drives, only to burned by an open three or a blown rotation. Again, it's not strictly on Arike, but she's often the center of opposing gameplans, targeted by offensive coordinators. I really hope to see that change throughout the course of the season, or at least to see a concerted effort to be better on that end.
8. Phoenix Mercury (2-4) 99 O-Rating, 106.9 D-Rating
Free Brittney Griner and bring her home. This situation is awful, it's wrong and I hope it's resolved soon.
It's difficult to get a feel for this team and who they are, and in many ways, it's feels unfair to be critical. We know what Dianna Taurasi can do, and she's shaken loose for a few monster scoring outbursts already. Skylar Diggins-Smith is currently out with a non-COVID illness, but she continues to hum along as one of the best guards in the W.
Diamond DeShields has brought more athleticism to a team that needed an influx of it on the wing. Her ability to get out in transition and add shot creation have been boons.
Tina Charles adds a unique dynamic as a pick-and-pop threat and with the occasional post-up as well. With her threat as a spacer, Vanessa Nygaard has been able to employ Brianna Turner as a roller more often, which I've appreciated. She has solid court vision, and with her size, it makes her much more of a threat to a defense than spacing her to the perimeter. I still want to see her be more confident in her offensive abilities and hopefully seek out some new ways to impact a defense.
The defense is a tough pill to swallow right now. While noting that the Mercury undoubtedly miss Griner and Kia Nurse (who is still out with a knee injury), the defense has been untenable. Outside of the two games against the Storm without Breanna Stewart, the Mercury have allowed 90 or more points in three of their other four games.
They struggle to contain the ball, they don't offer much at the rim outside of Turner's rotations and their lack of depth has resulted in some ugly quarters. They'll need every bit of this three-day break prior to their next game.
9. Los Angeles Sparks (2-4) 96.4 O-Rating, 96.1 D-Rating
I have a ton of questions about the Sparks, probably more than any team in the league right now. Yet, I want to note that I came away from their loss to the Storm feeling much better about their offense than I had at any point this season.
There was some flow and verve that hadn't been there before. The off-ball movement and cutting was there. It felt like actions strung together rather than happened subsequently. They came out with a concrete gameplan to attack the Storm on the interior in the second half, and that opened up a great deal for them once they set the hierarchy of what they wanted to do. Seattle is so aggressive with how they attack ball screens, and the Sparks used that against them to draw out the defense and attack the middle of the floor.
That being said, I came away pretty mum on their defense. The defensive personnel is really good, but the communication and cohesiveness is not.
Is Liz Cambage a good defender outside of a deep drop?
Not in the slightest, and Seattle took advantage with 4/5 pick-and-rolls between Breanna Stewart and Ezi Magbegor to really attack that. But my issue is more with what rotations look like right now. They happen after a gap is exploited, not preemptively to shore up weak spots.
They tend to be fine stopping initial dribble penetration, but secondary rotations have been amiss.
Things shouldn't be all doom and gloom, but the Sparks clearly had higher ambitions after what happened last season. The moves they made were not to be an okay playoff team that fights to be .500, although they don't quite even look like that.
They need to figure out what it is that they want with Chennedy Carter. The lineups with both her and Jordin Canada have been a struggle as Carter gets picked on, and the size/length isn't there to help with containment. If she doesn't have the ball, neither she nor Canada gets guarded as shooting threats that clog the lane.
When Carter does have the ball, she feels off from the rest of the team, which makes sense given that she's coming into a new stuation. There just hasn't been a great balance between her individual offense and her ability to facilitate. That's made even muddier by the spacing. Brittney Sykes has been tremendous defensively, which is par for the course, but she hasn't hit a three yet this season. The roster in entirety is 11th in makes and 10th in attempts from distance, per HerHoopStats. That should be helped by Katie Lou Samuelson, but this is not a one-player fix.
There have been positive glimpses, to be certain, but I don't feel great about many lineups on this team. The Sparks have an easier stretch coming up after a meeting with the Aces on the 23rd, but they can't afford to drop a fifth straight game before they right the ship.
10. Indiana Fever (2-5) 91.7 O-Rating, 99 D-Rating
This team is freakin' fun. We didn't get to say that last year. The process is so much better, and they've upgraded from dreadful to competent. They've been in mostly every game they've played this season.
Kelsey Mitchell is third in the W in scoring, and more importantly, her passing is showing some signs of growth both in the box score and in watching. The up-tempo pace has been a great mesh with her game.
Danielle Robinson returned from overseas play and has added another veteran presence to a rookie-laden squad.
Every rookie has shown bright flashes. NaLyssa Smith has been out with an injury much of the past week, but Emily Engstler saw time as a starter and impressed with her drives and playmaking.
Queen Egbo has absolutely blown me away to start the year. She's looking like a ready-made W starter with some viable skills and flashes of upside on either end.
Queen Egbo has brought some really nice things as a screener and finisher— Mark Schindler (@MG_Schindler) May 18, 2022
Really liking some of the defensive flashes as well pic.twitter.com/HdlQQi6Un9
She has good hands and activity on either end. Her instincts as a shot blocker have really popped as well, but I most enjoy her impact as a screener and roller in the offense. Egbo's face-up game is a little clunky right now, and she's not the most willing jump shooter, but the outline is there and she's had some moments where she puts a few skills together.
This team isn't going to be a playoff team, but they're a fun team, and I love what they have cooking with their youth.
11. Minnesota Lynx (1-6) 94.8 O-Rating, 106.5 D-Rating
The Lynx have had an extremely rough go of it to start the season.
Over the last week, they lost to the Sky by 4, albeit in a game that wasn't that close. They beat the Sparks by 3, and then played the Aces tight in 6-point loss on Thursday. I still have major questions about depth and will throughout the year with Damiris Dantas still sidelined and Napheesa Collier out for what will likely be much of the season due to her pregnancy (major congrats to her!).
There's reason for optimism, though. Sylvia Fowles has been dominant to start the year. Every game is a reminder of her greatness that's still effervescent in her game. Just a special special star of the sport.
Moriah Jefferson has been such a good addition for this team. She's settling things in the halfcourt and has brought a stabling hand at the point, something this team lacked. In four games with the Lynx, she's averaging 15.5 points and 5.5 assists on plus shooting from the field and three. That's probably not going to stick to that extent, but she's been so good in Minnesota early on.
Kayla McBride is back and was huge in the Sparks win, and they'll look to continue to integrate her coming off of a rough outing against the Aces.
Aerial Powers may finally be out of her slump to start the year after going for a season-high 25 points against Las Vegas. Also, just massive shoutout to Aerial, whose game is so fun to watch. There are few players who scintillate like she can when she gets into her bag.
This was about the worst-case start the Lynx could hope for, but this next stretch of games will be crucial in getting back on track and finding some footing. The Lynx play two games in the next week (Liberty and Sparks) hopefully providing some off time to rest and get their bearings before a three game road trip to start June.
12. New York Liberty (1-4) 84.4 O-Rating, 101.4 D-Rating
Thank god this Liberty team get a week off after the drubbing by the Sun on Tuesday (they don't return to play until they see the Lynx on the 24th). A franchise record for turnovers in a game was an exacerbated view of where this team is right now.Everything is sloppy, too fast and erratic. I'm not out on this team by any stretch. They have talent. They have a new coaching staff and system and some new players they're still trying to integrate. Jocelyn Willoughby is out for the next month and a half with a tear in her left quad tendon. Bec Allen just returned and played while jet-lagged. Yet, the point remains that this team couldn't really afford this kind of start.
I'm still not sure what to make of the fit of Stefanie Dolson. I know she was signed to be the starter at the five, but I'd rather see the bench unit built around her. Maybe leaning into skill and going smaller with Natasha Howard at the five opens things up in a way that Dolson at the five hasn't. Their defense seems like it could be better built on chaos, havoc and rotations to get out in transition again.
There's a place for Dolson undoubtedly, but she's a microcosm of where I'm at with this team. There's reason for intrigue, but I really need to see more from them in so many facets. That brings up the other question: Is getting out and running really what's best for them? The entire time watching the Sun game, I kept grimmacing at my screen at how forced some things felt with their pace.
Candace Parker gave Sabrina some nightmare fuel on these hedges last night pic.twitter.com/TI9YtLOwh2— Mark Schindler (@MG_Schindler) May 12, 2022
Ball pressure (two to the ball has been an automatic against Sabrina Ionescu) has absolutely rattled this team I don't have the answers, so I'm hoping they show me some this coming week.