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Season In Review: Dallas Wings

As the end of 2021 draws near, WNBA.com is wrapping up this 25th season by recapping each team’s season. Take a look back at notable contributors and season highlights with the 2021 Season In Review. Next up is the Dallas Wings.

Overview

After barely missing the Playoffs in 2020 due to a tiebreaker, new Head Coach Vickie Johnson had one goal this season: lead the Dallas Wings to the Playoffs.

To ensure the Wing’s future success, the team traded Katie Lou Samuelson (plus a 2022 second-round pick) for the 2021 No.1 overall draft pick, part of a four-team trade. The No.1 pick was in addition to already having the No. 2 and No.5 pick (traded the No.7 pick to the L.A. Sparks), giving them the perfect opportunity to load their roster with more young talent. With this historical power – the first team to have the first and second overall pick in the same draft – the Wings drafted Texas star Charli Collier at No.1, International star Awak Kuier at No.2, and Arkansas guard Chelsea Dungee at No.5.

With their draft picks the Wings’ squad got even younger. However, that doesn’t matter when you have young superstars in the making like Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally. Both players earned their first All-Star nod this season.

2021 was rocky for the Wings at times as they dealt with injuries, consistency issues, and the rookies’ slow adjustment to the league. Despite these setbacks, the team did what they had to do to qualify for the Playoffs. One of the team’s strengths is playing team basketball. Players like Marina Mabrey, Isabelle Harrison, and Allisha Gray stepped up big time for the team in crucial situations. Unlike last year their Playoff destiny was in their control and the Wings secured the No.7 seed, with a 14-18 season. This was the first time the Wings have qualified for the Playoffs since 2018.

In the first round of the 2021 WNBA Playoffs, the Wings were defeated by the future WNBA Champions, the Chicago Sky, 81-64.

While this wasn’t the outcome the Wings had hoped for, it’s clear they are on an upward trajectory. With the team not having one unrestricted agent, Ogunbowale becoming more of a threat each year, and another high draft pick, thanks to a trade with the L.A. Sparks, the future is very bright for the Dallas Wings.

Top Contributors

Arike Ogunbowale

Arike Ogunbowale did well… Arike Ogunbowale things this season. For the third consecutive year she led the Wings in scoring at 18.3 points per game. The elite 5-7 guard earned herself a spot on the All-Star roster and was named MVP. In typical fashion, the explosive guard was the difference-maker for the Wings in close games, ranking fourth in the WNBA in clutch scoring with 46 points on 13-39 field goals made and 8-17 beyond the arc. Speaking of clutch, on June 6th vs. Seattle Storm with 0.7 seconds left, Ogunbowale hit the game-winning three-pointer and put up a nice 24 points.

Marina Mabrey

Marina Mabrey had a breakout season, increasing her points, rebounds, and assists per game to 13.3, 3.2, and 2.9 compared to 10.6, 2.7, and 2.4 in 2020. The sharpshooting guard made herself an offensive option for the Wings, especially from beyond the arc. Mabrey tied for third in the league this season with three games with at least five 3-pointers made. On June 19th, Mabrey shot lights out in the Wing’s win over the Minnesota Lynx, dropping a new career-high 28 points.

Allisha Gray

While Allisha Gray’s scoring decreased this season from 13.1 (2020) to 11.9, the scrappy two-way player continued to make an impact on both ends of the floor. Her rebounding per game increased from 4.2 (2020) to 5.2. Off the court, she won an Olympic gold medal with the USAB 3X3 National Team, giving herself the fitting nickname, “Gold Medal Lish”. One of the only vets on the team, Gray continued to lead the Wing’s young squad and make big plays when it mattered. One of those big moves was a game-sealing block on September 18th vs. the New York Liberty that sent the Wings to the Playoffs.

Season Highlights

Charli Collier Named to All-Rookie Team

The 2021 No.1 pick, Charli Collier was named to the WNBA All-Rookie team. The rook led all rookies in rebounding and recorded 31 offensive rebounds this season, the most by any rookie this season.

Two Dallas Players Named To WNBA All-Star Roster; Arike Ogunbowale Named AT&T All-Star MVP

Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally both earned their first All-Star honors. During the game, Arike dropped a game-best 26 points to lead Team WNBA to victory over the USAB Women’s National team, 93-85.  She was awarded Finals MVP for her performance. Of course, this is on top of her live tweeting during the game.

Qualified for the Playoffs

On September 18th, Allisha Gray had the game-winning block against the New York Liberty that sent the Wings to the Playoffs for the first time since 2018.