Just after the midway point of the 22-game regular season, we’re handing out awards based on how the Los Angeles Sparks have performed so far this season.
The Sparks are currently third in the WNBA Standings with a 12-3 record. Over the next two weeks, Los Angeles will play the first-ranked Seattle Storm and the second-ranked Las Vegas Aces. These match-ups should settle the debate of league awards, including who will be named the WNBA’s Most Valuable Player.
Most Valuable Player – Candace Parker
In her 13th WNBA season, Candace Parker has been the most impactful player in the Wubble for the Sparks.
“I can control my energy, I can control my effort. I can control the decisions I make on the court,” Parker told Winsidr.
Parker is a positionless player, who is reprising her acclaimed role as Point Parker in the Wubble. Right now, she’s a league-wide MVP candidate and, as I like to call her, the Most Valuable Parker for the Sparks.
Parker is averaging 13.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 4.4 assists in just 29 minutes per game through 15 games in 2020. Parker is imposing her will on opponents with seven double-doubles in the Wubble.
Parker is a documented triple threat. Off the court, she’s a mother, NBA analyst, and Social Justice activist. On the court, she’s a WNBA Superstar, who is an elite scorer, rebounder, and passer.
“It’s no disrespect to any other players on any other teams but when you look at the overall versatility and what she does on both ends of the court, I don’t know if anyone has been more valuable than Candace this year in terms of the different statistical numbers that she impacts,” said LA Sparks head coach Derek Fisher.
While playing the second-fewest minutes in her career at less than 30 per game, Parker is arguably having her best season since winning MVP in 2013 and 2008.
However, it has been Parker’s defense that has set her apart in 2020. Point guard Chelsea Gray said Year 13 Candace Parker, at 34 years old, is making plays that we haven’t seen since Year 2 Parker when she was 23.
Parker had a near triple-double performance against the Lynx on Aug. 9, finishing one assist shy of her second career triple-double. With the right circumstances, Parker will likely have another chance at a triple-double in the Wubble.
“I just want to be healthy… I do everything in my power to make sure that when I step on the court, I’m as close to 100 percent as I can be,” Parker said. “I just want everybody in the bubble to be at 100 percent because this is an exciting time for the WNBA and I just wish health for everybody.”
Defensive Player of the Year – Candace Parker
Parker has anchored LA’s defense in the Wubble, so naturally she is my pick for Sparks Defensive Player of the Year, or as I like to call her, Defensive Parker of the Year.
Parker is also a leading candidate for the league’s 2020 Defensive Player of the Year.
“I think that might be above the two I got at home honestly,” Parker told Winsidr, referring to putting a DPOY award above her WNBA MVP trophies from 2008 and 2013.
“Better late than never I guess,” Parker continued.
Parker’s commitment and excellence on defense in 2020 have been fascinating to watch.
“I myself realize that the best players have to step up and I think so far this year we’ve done it collectively in different games with different weapons,” Parker said. “I know the impact I can have on the defensive end, as well as on the offensive end.”
She’s averaging nearly 10 rebounds per game. But it is the fact that Parker is grabbing about 35 percent of all available defensive rebounds, which is a career-high rate, that stands out. It is astounding that a player in year 13 is still setting personal bests.
“I know what this team is capable of and I know what we have to do,” Parker shared. “It’s fun to play on the defensive end.”
Most Improved Player – Sydney Wiese
Wiese is on her way to joining the rare 50 / 40 / 90 club, where a player shoots 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three, and 90 percent from the free-throw line in a season. Because of that, Wiese is my pick for Most Improved Player on the LA Sparks.
We’ve documented why Every Team Needs A Sydney Wiese. A prime example on why:, Wiese is actually already in the 50 / 50 / 90 club. She’s currently shooting 53.2 percent from the field, 51.2 percent from three, and 90.9 percent from the free-throw line.
Wiese filled in last season as a starter when Parker was injured and Riquna Williams was suspended. In 2020, even with a healthy 12 person roster, Wiese has continued to stake her claim as a starter in the WNBA.
Wiese’s best attribute is her ability to spread the floor and knock down open shots.
She’s the perfect player to start alongside Parker, Nneka Ogwumike, and Gray because Wiese does not need the ball to be effective. Wiese’s greatest intangible is her willingness to whatever the team needs her to do to win.
“Players like Sydney and people like Sydney make organizations go,” said Fisher. “She’s not really here just to serve herself and what could be best for her, she really is here to serve the team and what her teammates need from her.”
Sixth Woman of the Year – Riquna Williams
Williams is the instant offense that every team would love to have coming off the bench. We’ve documented why when “The Microwave” heats up, whoever is supposed to guard her is in trouble.
Williams has the talent of a WNBA starter. She’s already dropped 21 points off the bench this year. In fact, she prefers to come off the bench. That’s why Riquna Williams is my pick for the Sixth Woman of the Year on the Sparks.
“Talking with Coach Fisher, LT (Assistant Coach Latricia Trammell), and my teammates, I fully understanding that I’m probably best when I’m coming off the bench,” Williams recently told Winsidr. “I’m able to give more because I don’t have to think as much as I would in the first group.”
When your second team offense needs a lift, call “The Microwave.” I hear she delivers, even on Sundays.
Rookie of the Year – Te’a Cooper
Cooper is the only rookie on the Sparks roster but she’s staked her claim as the team’s backup point guard, averaging about 15 minutes per game. She’s my pick for Rookie of the Year on the Sparks. It’s not a de facto selection. She’s earned it.
Cooper was recently called to help the Sparks pull out a comeback victory against the Dallas Wings. Cooper replaced Wiese in the team’s starting lineup for defensive purposes. It was Cooper who drew the game-winning charge, garnering an offensive foul on Arike Ogunbowale.
Cooper was waived by the Phoenix Mercury after they drafted her in the second round of the 2020 WNBA Draft. Cooper then signed with the Sparks to fill Kristi Toliver’s roster spot, when Toliver opted out of playing in the WNBA Bubble.
“We definitely really appreciate what Te’a is bringing to our group,” Fisher said. “She’s had moments where she’s looked like a rookie and she’s had moments where she’s looked like she’s been here before and that type of composure and poise, and the fact that she’s doesn’t really get too high or too low on herself… I think those are really good traits to have.”
After 13 games, Cooper has solidified her future on someone’s WNBA roster, most likely the Sparks.
“Next play mentality. I can only control what’s in the moment,” Cooper told Winsidr. “I can’t go back and I can’t look too far ahead, just staying in the moment and continuing to believe in myself no matter what.”
Coach of the Year – Latricia Trammell
Trammell is technically an Assistant Coach for the Sparks; however, Coach T is my pick for Coach of the Year.
Coach Trammell has been tasked with getting the Sparks defense right in the Wubble. The Sparks have a myriad of talented offensive players but they are winning games because of their defense.
— Coach Trammell (@TrammellCoach) August 24, 2020
Think of LT as the Sparks’ defensive coordinator. Coach Tram’s job is to translate the coaching staff’s defensive mantra.
The Sparks have a motivated Parker in the middle, the always steady Ogwumike, and Brittney Sykes & Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, two players who are willing to accept the challenge of guarding the other team’s best perimeter player.
Parker said Coach T deserves a lot of credit, especially when it comes to the team’s defensive schemes.
“Coach T from a defensive standpoint has really got us all on the same page of what we’re trying to do,” Parker said. “When you have a purpose every time you come down on the defensive end and everybody knows that purpose, I think we’re able to play together and try to keep the ball out of the lane.”
We are blessed and very proud to have @TrammellCoach Her work ethic and passion for the game speaks volumes. One of the best finest hardest working coaches in WNBA. Would make a great Head Coach in this league.
— Michael Fischer (@mfischer313) August 25, 2020
Coach Fisher agrees that Trammell deserves a lot of credit for LA’s defense reaching another level in 2020.
“I think Coach T has been even more clear and concise with exactly what we want, how we want it done, the coverages, the terminologies, the clarity,” Fisher said. “Coach T deserves a lot of credit… we’ve all taken on a little bit more responsibility but I don’t know if anybody is doing more at helping us than Coach T is.”