The WNBA season coming to a close and the Dallas Wings are now out of the playoff race. The Wings clearly had a rough go of it in 2019. Injuries and early season struggles torpedoed the season before it really even started. As the last week of the season gets underway, let’s talk about those injuries and what this team might look like going forward.
Full Strength Ahead
Dallas simply has not had a fully healthy roster all season long. Tayler Hill and Azura Stevens sustained injuries early on this year. They each managed to play less than 10 games, therefore derailing them for the rest of this 2019 season. Hill had a knee injury and Stevens had a foot injury. They both had surgery to repair those injuries during the season.
Hill was sent to Dallas from Washington last season in the Aerial Powers trade. She only got to compete with the team for seven games before the season ended. She had averages of just 5.0 points, 1.0 rebound, and 1.0 assist. Stevens, on the other hand, got to play her entire rookie year posting averages of 8.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.1 blocks, making the 2018 All-Rookie team. Through four games this season, Hill averaged 3.3 points and 1.3 rebounds in that time. Through nine games this season, Stevens averaged 4.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks.
One of the newer additions to the team was acquired in the Liz Cambage trade was Moriah Jefferson. Jefferson began her career with the San Antonio Stars, who have now relocated and are the Las Vegas Aces. She started all 34 games her rookie year for the Stars and averaged 13.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.6 steals. Over her career, Jefferson is averaging 10.5 points, 3.8 assists and 1.4 steals in 25.3 minutes per game.
“I anticipate that we’ll see Moriah Jefferson in a Dallas Wings uniform this season,” Greg Bibb said. “I have a hunch.”
Unfortunately, she has not made any on-court appearance this season.
“I had dinner with Moriah last night [August 15],” Head Coach Brian Agler said. “Glad to see her here, she’s full-go next year, she just wants to be totally healthy. She’s getting there.”
Here’s a look back at her career-high scoring night in her rookie year in 2016.
Commander In Chief
The main player we’re waiting on to see fully healthy and back to form is the franchise player, Skylar Diggins-Smith. Her timeline is a bit unpredictable as we can see from this season.
“In terms of Skylar, that situation remains the same. It’s 100% up to Skylar,” Wings President and GM Greg Bibb recently told The Dallas Morning News. “We’re going to support her and her timeline and when she says she’s ready to go, we’re going to welcome her back. Until she’s ready to go, she needs to focus on getting herself healthy and getting her family situated and feeling good about all of that.”
Speculation started that she could be seen in late June, but that didn’t happen. It later began floating around that she may be seen after the All-Star break to come back and help the Wings make a playoff push, but that also did not happen. She didn’t have an injury but instead is coming back from a pregnancy in which she had her first son just a month before the season start. The speculation came mainly due to the competitive nature of Diggins-Smith.
“You miss the game, and you miss being around this big passion of yours,” Diggins-Smith told The News at the Wings’ media day. “But you have something in your life that kind of takes precedence over everything, and it puts everything into perspective to just have fun and enjoy every moment.”
Here’s a look at her highlights from her career-high scoring night during the 2018 season.
Predicting the Roster
Some players are making cases for future roster spots as the year finishes because more tough cuts will be made after the draft and possibly even more trades before the 2020 season. The year is not over and the Wings are not willing to lay down just because they are eliminated from playoff contention either.
“Playoffs was the goal, and that’s not attainable anymore, but that doesn’t mean we bring our intensity down at all,” Arike said on what the team is playing for now being eliminated from playoffs. “So, we’re just playing for each other, we’re playing to win the game, we’re playing for the future, and we’re just going to give it our all as if we were contending for the WNBA championship.”
Many players had some great moments this year and some played some of the best basketball of their career this season, but not everyone will remain
Here’s a way-too-early roster prediction for next year, not including future drafted players.
G – Skylar Diggins-Smith
G – Allisha Gray
G – Moriah Jefferson
G – Kaela Davis
G – Arike Ogunbowale
G – Tayler Hill
F – Kayla Thornton
F – Azura Stevens
F – Glory Johnson
F – Kristine Anigwe
F – Megan Gustafson
F – Isabelle Harrison