The Pros & Cons to Starting Seimone Augustus, Brittney Sykes and Sydney Wiese

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Seimone Augustus, Brittney Sykes, and Sydney Wiese have proven that they can be starters in the WNBA. But, the LA Sparks are built around the Big 3 of Chelsea Gray, Candace Parker, and Nneka Ogwumike. 

“It was a rough week,” began LA Sparks Head Coach Derek Fisher, “If I’m fatigued, I can only imagine the amount of fatigue that they’re feeling and experiencing after four games in seven days.” Fisher told Winsidr, even with a small sample size, he is studying advanced statistics like the team’s offensive rating, defensive rating, rebounding, and deflection rate when certain players are on the court. 

Regardless of the team’s record, Gray, Parker, and Ogwumike will continue to be in the Starting 5. That leaves Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Riquna Williams as Derek Fisher’s go-to options for switching up the Sparks starting lineup, barring injury. Although Augustus is a walking GOAT and motivating force, Sykes and Wiese (who are Wubble roommates) may be more logical replacements for TRP and Williams. 

Should Wubble Roomies Wiese or Sykes Start Over Williams?

Wiese is a 6’0 guard with an unassumingly efficient plus/minus, a metric that analyzes how the Sparks perform when Sydney is on the court. In her first start of the season against the Indiana Fever on Aug. 6th, Wiese spaced the floor, shot 50 percent from three, and helped Gray with ball-handling duties.

Sydney’s game is nuanced and selfless.  It may not show up on the box score, but she’s often the first Spark to dive for a loose ball. Not only is she a capable shooter, she’s a willing shooter. Wiese, the 11th pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft, relishes her opportunities after barely playing in her first two seasons with the Sparks.

Brittney Sykes, the seventh pick of the 2017 draft, is an energetic slasher. The 5’9 guard will not hesitate to shoot an open three. She’s also willing to take on the challenge of guarding the other team’s best player. Sykes game is the definition of versatility. She possesses the tools to fill different roles, depending on the matchup. However, Sykes’ attributes can be just as effective on the bench, being that she has the energy and skill level to change the game in one possession.

A prime example, Sykes showed the elite athleticism necessary for a 5’9 player to block 6’9 Brittney Griner.

Williams previously told Winsidr that although she expected to start she was “definitely willing to come off the bench.” Williams, a WNBA All-Star in 2015, won the Sixth Woman of the Year award in 2013. If Williams is comfortable coming off the bench, Fisher should do just that.  Williams was on track to be the team’s Sixth Woman until Kristi Toliver opted out of the 2020 WNBA Season.

“Riquna has traditionally been more comfortable coming off the bench,” Fisher explained. “Last season, we went to her and asked her to step into the starting lineup. She accepted that responsibility and has done a great job.”

Bay Bay and Money Mone Off The Bench Would Be Trouble in the Wubble

Tough, competitive on defense, and provides scoring. That’s a quick synopsis of Riquna “Bay Bay” Williams’ game. 

Those intangibles could be even more important, providing a spark off the bench for LA. Imagine pairing Williams with a natural scorer like Augustus. Bay Bay and Money Mone against bench players would be trouble in the Wubble. Williams and Augustus’ ability to put pressure on opposing defenses by walking into jump shots has been well documented. In fact, Williams could very well play starters minutes off the bench. In certain scenarios, she could even help the Sparks close out games.

“The good thing about Riquna is she’s remained open-minded to whatever it is the team needs,” Fisher said. “She’s comfortable starting, she’s comfortable coming off the bench. She just wants to go out there and help us win, and those are the kind of players we want to have on this team.”

Ruffin-Pratt is another selfless player for the Sparks.  She puts her body on the line defensively, embodied by her “next man up” mentality.  Imagine the havoc TRP could create off the bench. Her stifling defense could change the momentum, especially if she were to come in and immediately pick up the point guard and play full-court defense.

Should Seimone Augustus Start?

Yes, there’s no doubt Seimone Augustus can still start in the WNBA. In early season games, she’s already shown glimpses of being able to carry the Sparks. Her energy has been consistent and her leadership has been impeccable. 

 

However, the Sparks do not have enough shots to go around for another scorer when Gray, Parker, and Ogwumike are being aggressive on offense. Inserting Augustus into that starting mix would not help. The Sparks should consider taking a step back to take two steps forward. That’s where players like Wiese and or Sykes could fit in and not necessarily stand out. 

If Augustus is willing to accept her role off the bench, why rock the boat. Fisher should continue to let Augustus go to work against opposing defenses off the bench.  Her 15 years of experience versus reserve players, many of whom will be rookies, is a matchup she will win most nights. Augustus does not lack the mindset of an elite defender. However, as a starter, teams could target her as the weakest defender because opponents may believe she has lost a step.

The Sparks are still in the process of deciding how to switch up the team’s starting lineup. But in two weeks, the regular season will be half over, meaning Fisher will have to make up his mind about the team’s 2020 starting lineup, sooner than later.

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About Author

John W. Davis is a Multimedia Journalist based in Inglewood, California. He loves to shoot & edit video and engage with readers / viewers on social media. In addition to covering the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks, he has covered collegiate and professional Track & Field for various national outlets and co-hosted the "Pistonscast" Podcast covering the Detroit Pistons. He has worked on-air in several local television markets as a MMJ / News Reporter in Orlando, Florida and Fort Wayne, Indiana. Originally hailing from Detroit, Michigan, he got his start as an Associate News Producer. John is proud graduate of Central Michigan University, where he received his Bachelor's Degree in Broadcast and Cinematic Arts. He is also a proud graduate of Syracuse University, where he received his Master's Degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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