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Scouting the 2006 Sparks: Perimeter Players

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Kevin Pelton, storm.wnba.com | August 18, 2006
Reading the player stat lines:
TS% - True Shooting Percentage (points per shooting possession)
Reb% - Estimated percentage of available rebounds grabbed by the player
Pass - Assists per minute squared multiplied by assist-to-turnover ratio
Pos% - The percentage of team possessions used by the player
TO% - The percentage of possessions used by the player that ended in turnovers
PER - John Hollinger's Player Efficiency Rating
Numbers in red boxes are player's rank amongst all qualifying players (minimum 250 minutes) at her position
For more, check out storm.wnba.com's stat primer

PG TEMEKA JOHNSON

G
MPG
PPG
RPG
APG
TS%
Reb%
Pass
Pos%
TO%
PER
32
25.5
8.0
3.0
5.0
.455
19
7.1
7
4.57
1
19.3
7
20.0
8
16.7
7

Johnson came to Los Angeles in exchange for Nikki Teasley last winter, and the two players proceeded to finish first (Teasley) and second (Johnson) in the WNBA in assists per game. Johnson also finished fouth in assist-to-turnover ratio; by my pass rating, she was the best distributor in the league this season. Passing has been Johnson's calling card for years, but as a rookie in Washington she proved a surprisingly potent scorer. That dropped off this season, as Johnson shot 40.2% from the field with just three 3-pointers all year (she hit 13 as a rookie). The game plan against Johnson defensively is to back off her and force her to shoot over the top, but Johnson is so quick this is easier said than done.

At 5-3, Johnson is the smallest starter in the WNBA, but you wouldn't really know it from her statistics. Most notably, Johnson is an above-average rebounder for a point guard, unafraid of mixing it up in the paint. Johnson is short, but she's not really small; she's well-built and has a low center of gravity that keeps her on balance most of the time.

PG DONEEKA HODGES-LEWIS

G
MPG
PPG
RPG
APG
TS%
Reb%
Pass
Pos%
TO%
PER
34
13.6
3.9
1.2
1.9
.425
23
5.5
18
1.61
9
19.3
8
22.0
12
10.4
18

Hodges-Lewis might be the only Sparks player who misses departed Coach Henry Bibby. Bibby's style emphasized spotting up on the perimeter for L.A.'s point guards, and that played perfectly to Hodges-Lewis' shooting ability, to the point where she was more effective than Teasley at times in 2005. This year, Hodges-Lewis has had a more difficult time of it, seeing her 3-point percentage plummet from 44.4% to 29.5%. Still, she's a solid backup at the point despite converting from shooting guard - she played alongside Johnson for her final three years while at LSU and doesn't make a lot of mistakes. The Sparks don't really see much drop-off when Hodges-Lewis is at the point, and that's a high compliment.

SG TAMARA MOORE

G
MPG
PPG
RPG
APG
TS%
Reb%
Pass
Pos%
TO%
PER
34
18.9
6.1
2.1
1.9
.592
1
6.7
14
0.90
4
14.9
26
17.9
21
17.4
10

A year ago, Moore played just 48 minutes all season long for the New York Liberty. After signing with the Sparks as a free agent, however, Moore stepped into a perfect situation. Los Angeles had an opening at shooting guard after losing Tamecka Dixon in free agency. While rookie Lisa Willis was expected to fill that slot, Moore stepped in to provide the Sparks a stopper in the backcourt.

Moore has been surprisingly solid offensively, shooting 46.9% from the field with enough 3s (17-49, 34.7%) and free throws to boast the third-best True Shooting Percentage in the league. Moore has played point guard in the past, and gives the Sparks a second solid ballhandler for times when Johnson is pressured.

SG LISA WILLIS

G
MPG
PPG
RPG
APG
TS%
Reb%
Pass
Pos%
TO%
PER
24
13.3
4.6
1.8
0.4
.530
10
8.0
8
0.03
25
17.0
23
14.0
8
16.1
14

The fifth pick in the 2006 Draft, Willis did not move far from Pauley Pavilion, where she starred at UCLA, to the Staples Center. Willis' talent was good enough for her to step in right away, but she's split minutes with Hodges-Lewis as a backup guard. When Willis has gotten a shot, she's been effective. On offense, Willis is primarily a spot-up shooter at this stage of her career, attempting 52 of her 91 shots from beyond the arc. She knocked them down at a 36.5% clip, good for fourth amongst rookies.

When Willis matures, it appears she will be a versatile contributor at shooting guard. She's a strong rebounder who averaged 5.4 rebounds per 40 minutes as a rookie. Defensively, Willis has the size (5-11, 170) and athleticism to be an above-average on-ball defender. She's already got playing the passing lanes down, averaging more than steal per game in 13.3 minutes per, which translates to 3.3 per 40 minutes.

SF MWADI MABIKA

G
MPG
PPG
RPG
APG
TS%
Reb%
Pass
Pos%
TO%
PER
32
21.2
8.5
2.0
1.5
.501
11
5.6
25
0.32
12
20.3
11
12.0
3
14.3
15

Healthy after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery that sidelined her the first half of a lost 2005 campaign, Mabika nonetheless failed to return to her previous All-Star form. With the exceptions of 2002 and 2004, Mabika's shooting has always been more streaky than consistently dangerous. She hit 33.3% of her 3-point attempts this season, but still fired up more than two per game. Her 37.7% field-goal percentage was below her career mark of 39.0%.

Mabika was regarded as the WNBA's finest athlete during the league's first few seasons of existence, but at 30, her athleticism may have waned. From a statistical perspective, Mabika was one of the worst rebounders at small forward in the league, and she no longer picks up steals as frequently as she once did. Mabika was once the master of the pull-up jumper; with that out of her arsenal, she's been reduced to more of a catch-and-shoot specialist.

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