The Follow Through: Satou Sabally’s Back!

Welcome back to The Follow Through. By now, you probably know this is the weekly column where I just write a bunch of words about the WNBA. If you don’t know that, then… well, it’s the weekly column where I write a bunch of words about the WNBA.

This week, we’re talking about Satou Sabally’s return and Jackie Young playing up to expectations.

 

What Satou Sabally Brings To Dallas

Satou Sabally is back! And while she was held to just two points in her second game, she busted out of the gates on Friday against the Storm, showing why she’s crucial to the long-term success of the Wings.

Sabally finished that game with 18 points on 7-for-16 shooting, plus added nine rebounds, an assist, and a block.

There’s just so many ways that Sabally expands what Dallas can do. She struggled from three last season, making just 19.7 percent of her attempts, but her career in college and overseas suggests she’s a really good shooter from deep. That allows the Wings to play her at the four—and sometimes the five, like they were forced to do some last season—and create space and mismatches. But she’s also a fluid mover with the ball in her hands, someone capable of making plays in the half court.

Here, we get a glimpse of how the Sabally and Arike Ogunbowale pairing can be effective. Just a little two-player game over here on the left side. Arike drives, Breanna Stewart is caught in a bit of a no man’s land here between helping on the Arike drive or staying tight on Sabally, and that allows Sabally to make a quick move out beyond the arc, where she catches the Arike pass and puts up this three over Stewart, whose chance at contesting the shot is slowed some because she has to navigate around Ogunbowale too.

 

And sometimes it’s the small things. Sabally gets a good switch here, as she comes around the arc and goes from a Breanna Stewart matchup to a Sue Bird matchup at the top of the arc. Sue Bird’s a legend, but Bird on Sabally in space? Mismatch. Bird is stuck on her initially, but Sabally does a quick little dribble to the side, which gets Bird flailing and gets Sabally open. Stewie comes over her direction, but it’s much too late. Three points Dallas.

 

Alright, one more Sabally play. On this, she’s hanging around the top of the arc, but Epiphanny Prince hurries over to prevent Sabally from taking the three. This is where we get to see what makes Sabally such a versatile threat: she can dribble and drive. She gets around Prince, getting into the lane and putting up a floater.

First, I don’t love the shot selection here. Yes, Candice Dupree is at the basket, so Sabally puts this shot up to avoid having to take a more contested look closer in, but I also think she could have just taken it all the way to the rack. The good thing here is that Sabally doesn’t just take the shot and then give up on the play. She follows through, keeping her momentum going after the release and positioning herself to grab her own miss. From there, Sabally puts a layup back in.

See Also

This was one of four offensive rebounds in the game. Sabally being able to hit the offensive glass, but also to score from all over the floor gives the Wings a lot of options offensively. Factor in Sabally’s good size and instincts defensively, and you can see why I think she could wind up being the best player from the 2020 draft class and can help turn the Wings into contenders.

 

Jackie Young Is Showing Why She Was The No. 1 Overall Pick

I’ve been on the “Jackie Young is very good at basketball” train for years now, as evidenced by this piece I wrote about her as a rookie and this piece I wrote about her last season.

Now, it seems like other people are finally starting to take notice of Jackie Young being good. This is obviously some anecdotal evidence, but it just seems like the amount of positive Jackie Young discussion on Twitter has exploded this season, and the amount of negative Jackie Young discussion is going away. That’s good. Young never deserved to be talked about as someone who wasn’t living up to her draft stock for a variety of reasons. One is that she entered the league after her junior season, not her senior season, so growing pains were to be expected. The second reason is that the 2020 season was #WeirdAsHell because of the bubble. (But also, Young improved a lot last year! She was good!)

2021, though, has been a breakout campaign for Young so far. It’s early, so advanced stats are incredibly noisy, but Positive Residual’s Estimated Contribution metric has Young with the league’s third-highest Overall EC, plus the second-highest Wins Above Replacement. In the first stat, she’s behind Jonquel Jones and Breanna Stewart. In the second, it’s just Jones.

Now look, as I already said, those are NOISY. Advanced metrics with this small of a sample aren’t going to accurately reflect everything in the league. Kia Nurse and Nneka Ogwumike are in the bottom four in EC, for example, which feels wrong. But even if we stick to “normal” stats, Young stands out.

On the season, the third-year guard is averaging 14.7 points per game on 47.8 percent shooting, with her three-point field goal percentage rising to 33.3 percent this year, a career-high. She’s also averaging 4.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.5 steals per game.

Young has been a huge part of what the Aces are doing this year. She’s playing more minutes than ever (33.7 per game), and she’s now proven why she was the first pick in that 2019 draft. Sure, you can make a retrospective argument for Arike Ogunbowale or Napheesa Collier and you’d probably be right, but Young is closing that gap.

 

Some Other Things I Thought This Week

  • Things are obviously not going well for the Chicago Sky right now, who sit at 2-7 on the season with a seven-game losing streak and an 0-5 record at home. Not having Candace Parker is obviously a problem, but a losing streak like this goes beyond not having Parker. The Sky are shooting just 31.5 percent from three. They have the sixth-best field goal percentage in the league in the restricted area, so scoring at the bucket hasn’t necessarily been an issue, but they’re last in the league by a good bit in mid-range field goal percentage at 23.1 percent. Second-worst is Washington at 30.1 percent. They’re also the only team under 30 percent on non-RA paint shots. All that’s bad, and Parker alone won’t fix it. Chicago has to start knocking down shots.
  • The Sun are about to be without Jonquel Jones because of EuroBasket. That should be worrying to Sun fans, as Jones has been the W’s best player so far. But I do think the team is going to be able to weather this. Brionna Jones is fourth in Estimated Contribution, while DeWanna Bonner is seventh. There’s depth concerns, but if Beatrice Mompremier can give them some solid minutes while Jones is gone, this team should be fine.
  • Myisha Hines-Allen had a monster game in a loss to the Aces, finishing with 32 points and 13 rebounds. Washington’s Hines-Allen and Tina Charles frontcourt isn’t perfect, but both players are capable of these monster games. Please please please let us see them with a healthy Elena Delle Donne soon.

 

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