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The Debut

May 24, 2013 | Anthony Oliva, WNBA.com

Enough with the hype machine. It’s time to start the show.

On Saturday night in Atlanta, Skylar Diggins will make her WNBA debut against Angel McCoughtry and the Dream. It will be a moment that Tulsa fans have been waiting for since the WNBA Draft in mid-April and one that Diggins has dreamt about for the better part of her basketball life.

True to form, a goal-oriented Diggins has a few benchmarks -- without naming specific statistical thresholds -- for success on Saturday. She wants to keep turnovers down, be defensive-minded and stay aggressive.

But that’s not all.

“Other than that I’m thinking about having fun,” Diggins said. “I want to have a good time out there. It’s fun -- we’re entertainers. This is what we work hard for, to be out there and play the game that we love.”

The excitement building for this WNBA season can only really be compared to the buildup generated in the league’s inaugural season of 1997, and much of that can be attributed to the emergence of Diggins, Brittney Griner and Elena Delle Donne -- the “3 to See” of this year's rookie class -- to the league.

In addition to the matchup against Atlanta on Saturday (7PM ET, Live Access), Skylar and the Shock will take on the Mystics in Tulsa's home opener as a part of Monday’s National TV doubleheader on ESPN2 starting at 3PM ET, which also features a matchup of Griner’s Phoenix squad versus Delle Donne and Chicago.

“I think it’s going to be super exciting especially with the buzz surrounding the league this year,” Diggins said. “I’ve never seen it like this as a fan, and as a player, I’ve talked to some other vets and they’ve just said the same thing – it’s going to be crazy here.”

A large crowd is expected at the BOK center on Monday, and Diggins teamed up with her new agency, Roc Nation, to get even more people in the seats. While Diggins is expected to bring many people to their first-ever WNBA games -- due to her crossover appeal in pop culture -- one fan expected to be in attendance is someone who has been around the game for decades: women's basketball legend Nancy Lieberman.

On the court, Diggins has reason to be excited as well because the Shock announced last week that 6-foot-8 Australian center Liz Cambage will play for the Shock in the 2013 season, despite previously stating she would miss the season for injury reasons. The massive addition makes Tulsa a frontrunner for a Playoff spot in a stacked Western Conference -- despite finishing with only nine wins last year.

This is what you work hard for, to have these moments out here in the WNBA. I’m going to enjoy it. - Skylar

Playing with a true center the caliber of Cambage will be a pleasant change of pace for Diggins.

“In college I played with a lot of mobile forwards,” Diggins said. “I never played with anyone really over 6-foot-4 in college, so this is amazing for us. It allows us to be more aggressive in the backcourt because we have her presence there. There’s so many things offensively and defensively. She’s going to draw a lot of attention and be that presence inside that’s going to be tough to stop.”

Diggins hasn’t played with Cambage in the past, but she did watch her in the 2012 Olympics -- where the Aussie almost single-handedly ended Team USA’s quest for fifth straight gold by scoring 19 points in the first half -- and Diggins did play against her several years ago in a USA-Australia tit.

And, despite the duo's relative inexperience with each other, Diggins already see the benefits of them working in tandem.

“It’s a point guard’s dream to play with someone that big -- just throw the ball up to her and rack up assists,” Diggins said with a laugh.

Having Cambage in the lineup adds yet another layer of fun for Diggins as the start of the season, which has been hyped unlike any other in previous years, approaches this weekend.

"We’re looking forward to getting out on the court and finally getting this season started," Diggins explained.

So is everyone else.

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