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2018 Season Preview: Five Reasons To Watch The Dallas Wings Work

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2017 Record: 16-18, No. 7 seed in Playoffs, Eliminated by Mystics in First Round

Key Offseason Moves

  • Signed Liz Cambage
  • Re-signed Karima Christmas-Kelly, Theresa Plaisance and Kayla Thornton
  • Selected Azura Stevens, Loryn Goodwin and Natalie Butler in the 2018 WNBA Draft

2017 Season Highlights

Dallas Wings Top 5 Plays from 2017 Season

1. The Arrival Of Liz Cambage In Dallas

No team made a bigger splash this offseason than Dallas signing Australian center Liz Cambage and bringing her back to the franchise that originally drafted her No. 2 overall back in 2011. The 6-foot-8 Cambage is one of the top centers in international women’s basketball and now returns to the WNBA after a four-year hiatus.

Adding a player of Cambage’s size and skill is a game-changer for the Wings. She can score from inside and out on the offensive end, while her ability to defend the rim and rebound will do wonders for a Wings defense that posted the second-highest defensive rating last season (allowing 107.4 points per 100 possessions). Her potential as a 19-year-old made her the No. 2 pick in the 2011 Draft. Seven years later, that potential is being seen internationally and will now return to the WNBA stage.

2. Sklyar Diggins-Smith Leading The Way

Skylar Diggins-Smith erased any doubts that she was fully recovered from her torn ACL back in 2015 with an incredible 2017 WNBA season that saw her earn the second All-WNBA First Team selection of her career (2014 was the first). She averaged 18.5 points (seventh in the WNBA) and a career-high 5.8 assists (fourth in the WNBA) while leading the league in minutes (34.2 mpg). She also attempted a league-high 218 free throws and shot 89.4 percent from the free throw line (sixth in the league). Discussing getting back to All-WNBA First Team status made Diggins-Smith emotional during her Watch Me Work promo.

With her speed and explosiveness back to 100 percent, Diggins-Smith was the perfect floor general for Fred Williams’ fast-paced style of play. The Wings are a young team with only Diggins-Smith, Glory Johnson and Karima Christmas-Kelly with at least 5 years of WNBA experience. Leading this young squad and incorporating Cambage into the flow of the team will be just a few of the challenges that Diggins-Smith will face this season.

3. Allisha Gray’s Sophomore Season

Allisha Gray made an immediate impact on the Wings after joining the team as the fourth overall pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft. She started all 34 games and led all rookies in minutes played (27.2 per game). She finished second among rookies in both scoring (13.0 points per game) and rebounding (3.9 per game) and led all rookies and finished seventh in the league in steals (1.53 per game). Those numbers helped the 6-foot guard earn Rookie of the Year honors with 30 of the 40 votes from the national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Gray does a little bit of everything to help the Wings – she was third on the team in blocks (20), 3-pointers made (35), free throws made (106) and offensive rebounds (55) – and will be tasked to do them again this season as the team added more talent around her.

4. Azurá Stevens Is Just Tapping Into Her Potential

As if adding the 6-foot-8 Cambage didn’t give the Wings enough size, Dallas drafted 6-foot-6 forward Azurá Stevens with the sixth overall pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft. Stevens was a late entry into the draft – deciding to forgo her final year of eligibility at Connecticut to join the WNBA. Stevens is a versatile forward that can stretch the floor, rebound and get out in transition, which is exactly what the Wings like to do. Before transferring to UConn, Stevens spent her first two collegiate seasons at Duke. In her only season at UConn, Stevens started eight of 37 games and averaged 20.9 minutes per game. In those limited minutes, she averaged 14.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.05 blocks while shooting 60.6% from the field and just 17.6% (9-51) from beyond the arc. While she is still a bit raw, her talent is undeniable and with time to develop, she has star potential.

5. Get Ready To Run

As mentioned, the Wings will look to push the pace whenever possible, which makes them one of the most entertaining teams in the league to watch. Dallas led the league in pace last season with 81.6 possessions per 40 minutes; it was the fastest pace registered by a team in seven years when Atlanta logged an 82.2 pace. It will be interesting to watch how the additions of Cambage and Stevens affect the Wings offense. Will they be more selective in their transition opportunities, knowing that they can pound the ball down to Cambage in the post in half-court sets? Having the ability to play at multiple speeds is a great asset to have, especially come playoff time, when the pace of the game inevitably slows down with added emphasis on each and every possession.