Winsidr Film Room: How Dallas’s first round picks will fit on the Wings

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Ask the WNBA world what team “won” the 2020 draft and you’ll hear a lot of people tell you that it was the Dallas Wings.

Dallas held three of the first seven picks in last Friday’s draft. While there weren’t questions about who they’d take with the No. 2 overall pick (Oregon’s Satou Sabally), there were plenty of questions about the fifth and seventh pick.

At five, Dallas bucked the mock draft consensus of taking South Carolina’s Ty Harris and took a chance on Princeton forward Bella Alarie. Then at seven, Dallas ended up snagging Harris anyways. Things worked out perfectly for the Wings, who were able to get arguably the fifth and sixth best players in the draft to pair with Sabally and last year’s first round pick, Arike Ogunbowale.

I decided to fire up some film and some tracking data to make sense of what these three players will be bringing to the Wings.

Satou Sabally

Wings GM Greg Bibb told Her Hoop Stats that “in any other draft year, [Sabally’s] a number one pick.” That’s high praise for the Oregon junior, and it underlines how important Sabally is to the future of this Wings organization.

The analysis of what Sabally can do is pretty easy because she can do most things on a basketball court. Sabally has the potential to be an elite offensive weapon thanks to her ability to score at multiple levels and she’s also got the ability to defend at multiple levels as well.

Let’s start here in terms of watching some film. Sabally was a 33.8% shooter from three last year. While that’s not an elite number, it does speak to her versatility. She can  seamlessly adjust on the fly is a great talent of hers. On this play she starts by setting a screen for Sabrina Ionescu.

Both of the Arizona defenders decide to follow Ionescu on this play, leaving Sabally unguarded. She slips the screen and Ionescu finds her at the top of the arc. From there, she dribbles over to the left wing and lifts up for the three.

Something fun about Sabally is that she was about equally effective shooting no-dribble and dribble jumpers. Per Synergy, she scored in the 72nd percentile on catch-and-shoot jumpers and in the 74th percentile on off the dribble jumpers.

Speaking of Sabally’s ability to adjust, this play is originally set up to be her serving as a pick-and-roll ball handler. But Arizona plays it well, preventing both Sabally’s ability to drive or the roller’s ability to roll. The play instead turns into a Ruthy Hebard post up.

Except, wait. The moment Sabally passes it in to Hebard, she cuts down the baseline. Hebard gets the ball to her on the bounce pass, which Sabally then finishes at the basket. Sabally scored in the 90th percentile on all non-post up looks near the basket.

Also a big fan of what Sabally brings as a passer. Take this play for instance: Sabally has the ball all the way over in the right corner. But she delivers a perfect, high-arching pass across the court to Sabrina Ionescu, who drains an open three. Ionescu got all the attention when it came to passing the ball with the Ducks. But Sabally averaged 2.3 assists per game, a number that went up in each of her seasons. She shouldn’t be a primary option when it comes to running the offense, bringing the ball up, etc. But she can help keep things humming along, finding open players when defenses commit too hard to guarding her.

Bella Alarie

Like Sabally, Alarie is one of those players who can play both forward spots . Versatility is about to be the name of the game in Dallas!

I’ll admit that of the three players, Alarie is the one I know the least about because I didn’t get to watch much of Princeton during the season. But her Synergy profile shows that she does a lot of things very, very well.

Alarie’s most used play type was post ups and she scored in the 91st percentile on them, making it her best play type as well.

The play above shows us a couple of things Alarie does well. One is that she can use her height and strength to get good position in the post and then finish over players. The other is that she can use that same height to create additional chances when the ball doesn’t go in the basket, as Alarie does here. She had 35 offensive putback possessions last year, scoring 36 points on those plays.

Here’s another play where Alarie scores inside. Her ability to exist in multiple phases of the game makes her so dangerous. On this play, she’s got the ball outside the arc, passes it away, cuts to the basket, and ends up finishing there once the ball comes back her way. Her inside-outside ability on offense is going to make her a great fit for what should be a versatile Wings offense.

Alarie also has the ability to stretch the floor, as she shot 35.6% from three during her senior season.

This is a Wings team that should be able to create offense in a variety of ways. One of those ways will be using their plethora of shooters to pass the ball around and create open threes. Alarie can make those open threes.

Sabally and Alarie bring a lot of the same things to the floor for Dallas. While Sabally adds a little more ball-handling, both should be able to play either forward spot and score both inside and outside, though technically we’ll likely see Sabally at the three and Alarie at the four.

Tyasha Harris

Moriah Jefferson is expected to be the starting point guard for Dallas. But Jefferson hasn’t played since 2018, so there’s bound to be some question marks heading into the season about the position.

Harris is coming off a strong season as the lead guard on one of the country’s best basketball teams, a year in which she averaged 12 points and 5.7 assists per game. She shot 38.4% from three and was an excellent spot up and pick-and-roll scorer.

She can also get things going in transition:

The scoring is a great addition to this team, but Harris is unlikely to ever really be asked to be a top scorer. Dallas has Sabally. They have Arike Ogunbowale. What they need is a trusty primary ball-handler who can score when needed, but can also put her teammates in good positions.

Well:

and:

Harris gets the ball to her teammates in positions where they can be successful. That’s what this team needs from a point guard: a strong passer who can hit open threes and score in transition and, maybe most importantly, allow Arike Ogunbowale to not play point. Last year, Arike was asked too often to run the offense, but she’s best as a two-guard, someone who can get the ball in her hands and make plays when needed, but who doesn’t have to run the entire Dallas offense.

Long term, Harris working out will make this offense run a whole, whole lot smoother, and that’s a big reason why this was a great pick. Harris is good at what she does, and what she does is exactly what Dallas needs from a point guard.

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