Los Angeles Sparks
2005 In Review:
What Went Right?
While it took a while for them to get used to each other, there is not a more potent 1-2 combination than Lisa Leslie and Chamique Holdsclaw. At 32.2 points per game, they were the highest scoring tandem in the league, and they ranked third with 14.1 rebounds per game.
Tamika Whitmore was a solid presence next to Leslie on the frontline, averaging 9.6 points and 4.2 boards per game.
What Went Wrong?
The Sparks' 17-17 record was their worst regular season since 1998. They were used to being a dominant team on both ends of the floor, but they ranked in the middle of the pack in almost every offensive and defensive category.
Coach Henry Bibby was replaced midseason after it became evident that he was not the right choice for the job.
The team was also bothered by injuries all season, with Lisa Leslie a bit banged up early on in the season and Mwadi Mabika missing the first 16 games. A week after Mabika returned, Nikki Teasley was lost for the remainder of the regular season to a injured foot. When Teasley went down, the Sparks proceeded to lose seven of their next nine games, suffering from a lack of a true point guard.
In the playoffs, defense was a major issue. Sacramento shot a blazing .519 from the floor, scoring 78.0 points per game in the two-game sweep.
Looking Ahead To 2006:
The Sparks found their chemistry late in the season last year, but they will need to get to know each other again in 2006 with the trade of Nikki Teasley to Washington for 2005 WNBA Rookie of the Year Temeka Johnson and veteran forward Murriel Page. They also lost Tamecka Dixon to free agency.
Still, Holdsclaw and Leslie should be better than ever with a year together under their collective belt and Mabika should be stronger with her injury behind her.
In the Teasley trade, the Sparks moved up from No. 8 to No. 5 in the 2006 WNBA Draft. With four standout prospects this year, that fifth pick may be the most interesting spot in the first round. They also hold picks Nos. 22 and 36.