The 2020 WNBA season is set to be the most unique in the league’s 24-year history. Teams have arrived at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL to begin training camp for a 22-game season with all games played at a single site without fans due to the coronavirus pandemic. The bubble is set and the season is set to tip off on July 25. In the lead up to the season, WNBA.com will break down each team in the league, continuing with the Dallas Wings.
2019 Season Recap
- 10-24, 6th in West, 10th in League
- Did not qualify for the playoffs
- Draft: No. 2 Satou Sabally; No. 5 Bella Alarie; No. 7 Tyasha Harris; No. 21 Luisa Geiselsoder (will not join team in 2020)
- Trades: Acquired Marina Mabrey from Los Angeles in exchange for a 2021 2nd round pick; Received that pick back from Los Angeles in a subsequent trade in exchange for Kristine Anigwe and a 2021 3rd round pick; Acquired Katie Lou Samuelson and a 2021 1st round pick from Chicago in exchange for Azura Stevens; Acquired three draft picks (Nos. 5 and 7 in 2020 and a 1st round pick in 2021) from Phoenix in exchange for Skylar Diggins-Smith; Used the 2021 1st round pick from Phoenix to acquire Astou Ndour from Chicago; Acquired two 2021 draft picks (Washington’s 1st round and New York’s 2nd round) as part of a three team deal that sent Tayler Hill and the 9th and 15th picks in 2020 draft to New York
- Players Added: Astou Ndour, Katie Lou Samuelson and Marina Mabrey via trades; Satou Sabally, Bella Alarie and Tyasha Harris via draft
- Players Lost: Skylar Diggins-Smith (traded to PHX), Azura Stevens (traded to CHI), Glory Johnson (signed with ATL), Tayler Hill (traded to NYL), Kristine Anigwe (traded to LA), Karlie Samuelson (waived), Kaela Davis (waived), Imani McGee-Stafford (left WNBA to pursue law degree), Brooke McCarty-Williams (remains a free agent)
- Returning Players: Isabelle Harrison, Megan Gustafson and Moriah Jefferson re-signed with Dallas; Arike Ogunbowale, Allisha Gray and Kayla Thornton remain under contract
Who’s at IMG Academy
Between free agency, trades, the draft and players choosing not to participate in the season due to health concerns, the teams that take the court in 2020 may look a lot different than they did in 2019. Here’s a look at some of the key players that will represent the Wings in 2020.
- 2019 Stats: 33 GP, 32.1 MPG, 19.1 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.7 3PM, 38.8 FG%, 35.2 3P%
- Ogunbowale was runner up in the Rookie of the Year race as she finished ranked third in the WNBA in scoring. Her post All-Star numbers were outstanding as she averaged 25 points while shooting 44 percent from the field and beyond the arc.
- 2018 Stats (Las Vegas; DNP 2019, Knee): 16 GP, 15.7 MPG, 5.4 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.6 SPG, 37.9 FG%
- When Jefferson takes the court for the first time as a member of the Wings on Sunday, it will be her first WNBA game in 707 days as she missed the second half of 2018 and all of 2019 due to injury. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 Draft holds career averages of 10.5 points and 3.8 assists in 71 games.
- 2019 Stats (Oregon): 29 GP, 28.8 MPG, 16.2 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 46.4 FG%, 33.8 3P%
- Sabally elected to make the leap to the WNBA following her junior season at Oregon, where she averaged 16.2 points and career bests of 6.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists while playing alongside fellow first round picks Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard. Her combination of height (6-4), speed and athleticism should help her transition to the pro level, as will her outstanding inside-outside game.
Katie Lou Samuelson
- 2019 Stats (Chicago): 20 GP, 7.6 MPG, 2.4 PPG, 0.9 RPG, 0.4 APG, 0.3 SPG, 31.6 FG%, 27.6 3P%
- The No. 4 pick in last year’s draft, Samuelson was unable to get consistent minutes in the Chicago backcourt as she appeared in only 20 games and only played double-digit minutes six times. Joining the Wings should give the talented shooter from UConn more opportunities to find her footing in the WNBA.
- 2019 Stats (Chicago): 21 GP, 17.5 MPG, 6.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 49.2 FG%, 42.4 3P%
- Ndour joins the Wings after having her best season in the WNBA with the Sky in 2019, establishing new career highs nearly across the board. Ndour stands 6-5, can protect the rim, runs the floor well and can play as a stretch five with shooting range beyond the 3-point line.
- 2019 Stats: 34 GP, 30.4 MPG, 10.6 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.2 SPG, 45.7 FG%, 38.4 3P%, 84.8 FT%
- Gray improved her efficiency in her third WNBA season as she finished second on the team in scoring despite ranking 10th on the squad in usage rate (15%). Gray finished the season ranked 11th in the league in 3-point percentage and fifth among guards in true shooting percentage (59.3%).
- 2019 Stats: 27 GP, 30.4 MPG, 10.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.9 SPG, 34.3 FG%, 27.2 3P%, 93.1 FT%
- Thornton averaged career highs of 10.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in her second year as a full-time starter in 2019. Now the oldest player on the roster at just 27 years old, Thornton will be looked upon as a leader for this young squad.
1. Will 2020 lay the foundation for the team’s future success?
With Liz Cambage and Skylar Diggins-Smith in the team’s rear view, it is time to start a new era of Dallas hoops and the Wings have a roster filled with young talent ready to get started. Astou Ndour and Kayla Thornton are the most experienced players with four years in the WNBA as the Wings roster features four sophomores and three rookies.
In addition to seeing the rookie trio of Satou Sabally, Bella Alarie and Tyasha Harris get their first taste of the pro game, the Wings also have Arike Ogunbowale looking to pick up where she left off last season as well as a healthy Moriah Jefferson alongside Arike in the backcourt.
2. Can Arike Ogunbowale lead the WNBA in scoring in her second season?
As a rookie, Ogunbowale finished third in the WNBA in scoring at 19.1 points per game. Over the past 10 games of the season, she led all players at 27.9 points per game as she not only made a push for Rookie of the Year (she finished second), but for her first scoring title as well.
Her 19.1 points per game average ranks fourth all time by a WNBA rookie – trailing only Seimone Augustus (21.9, 2006, 2nd in PPG), A’ja Wilson (20.7, 2018, 3rd) and Cappie Pondexter (19.5, 2006, T-4th). Ironically, none of those players have won a scoring title in their careers despite such outstanding rookie campaigns.
3. How quickly will the rookies make an impact?
The Wings walked into draft night armed with a ton of picks and left with three players that could make an impact on the team this season. With the No. 2 pick, the Wings selected the versatile Satou Sabally from Oregon. While No. 1 pick Sabrina Ionescu got most of the attention from the Oregon trio of first round picks, Sabally is a blue-chip prospect in her own right.
Sabally showed her potential to play against the best players in the world as Oregon handed Team USA its only loss in 18 games against international and college teams as a tune up for the (now 2021) Olympics. Sabally finished that game with 25 points on 10-18 shooting and six rebounds and an added confidence in her game. “I feel like the USA game was just such a spark,” she said. “After that game, it was just eye-opening that I’m able to play at that level. … That game really showed me what I need to improve on but also that I’m kind of there.”
Alarie was only the third Ivy League player drafted into the WNBA and the three-time conference player of the year out of Princeton has the skill set and inside-outside game that suits today’s WNBA. But the leap in competition level may be jarring in her first few games as a pro.
Harris is a pass-first point guard that should fit in well in the Wings backcourt alongside Jefferson, Ogunbowale, Gray and Samuelson. The Wings finished last in the league in assists in 2019 (15.2 per game). Harris’ ability to set up her teammates for easy buckets should help that number rise.