The revolving theme around the Dallas Wings is that the franchise just can’t get it right. Over the past two years, the Wings grew promisingly under the guidance of former head coach Vickie Johnson. They struck playoff berths in both 2021 and 2022, and were on a mission to prove that their young talent could carry them anywhere. However, with consistent reports of issues in the locker room, a visible disconnect between the front office and its players and coaches, and an unhappy fanbase, the Wings organization was forced to make moves.
With a new head coach, more top draft picks in their bag, and a clear commitment to Teaira McCowan with a large offseason contract, things look hopeful in Dallas. However, with so much potential (yet again), there’s also reality that must be considered. Year after year, the team’s greatness grows exponentially, yet they haven’t taken that full leap to being a top contender. Do these recent changes move the needle for the Wings, or are they just the same ol’ team?
Bringing in New Energy
So far, the vibes have been light, fun, and spirited in Dallas. Players like Veronica Burton, Arike Ogunbowale, and Diamond DeShields only had positives to share about new head coach Latricia Trammell.
Nothing better that Coach LT mic'ed up 🤌 pic.twitter.com/rNDG1HvfET
— Dallas Wings (@DallasWings) May 11, 2023
“LT has just been incredibly encouraging,” DeShields said. “Just understanding a little bit about my background, and how the past couple of years have unfolded for me, she’s provided me with the space and opportunity to hit reset there.”
My own experiences with Trammell have also been pleasant. She brings a new energy to the franchise with her optimism and upbeat personality. Most notably, I’m intrigued to learn about her defensive system, what makes her a defense whisperer, if you will. Dallas’ preseason matchup against the Indiana Fever showed a glimpse of this, with Trammell constructing a lineup of Burton, Ogunbowale, Satou Sabally, Natasha Howard, and DeShields.
It will be interesting to see, too, how Trammell resonates with her players on the opposite end of the floor. When you have players with a naturally strong defensive foundation—like Burton, Howard, McCowan, and Crystal Dangerfield—it’s easy to galvanize the team to play just as hard. However, the Wings did struggle with their shooting during the preseason.
In their first preseason game versus the Chicago Sky, the Wings shot 37.7 percent from the field and 20.0 percent behind the arc. In their second preseason matchup against the Fever, the Wings shot 40.3 percent from the midrange and 30.0 percent from deep. Trammell consistently stated the team didn’t want to show their full hand during training camp, so she managed the game as the scrimmages they were. Even still, small noticeable details early on in a season can turn into bigger problems down the line. From the shot selections, to volume and efficiency, the Wings shot management will be key to watch this season.
All in all, Trammell has a great perspective coming in as a first-time head coach, committed to resonating with her players. Her transparency and communication so far has been refreshing to encounter, and the players respond well to her. There will be more to say, though, once we see her calling plays on court.
Fresh Faces in Dallas—2023 Draft and Trades
The Wings had a very busy 2023 Draft, entering with five picks and leaving with six. Maddy Siegrist and Ashley Joens are immediately available to play; Abby Meyers was waived; Lou Lopez Sénéchal is undergoing knee surgery and will be out for six to eight weeks; and Stephanie Soares and Paige Robinson are stash picks for 2024 as Dallas retains their rights for 2023.
One of the biggest shockers of the night was Dallas passing on draftees Haley Jones and Jordan Horston. These two would have not only improved the Wings’ defense many times over, but they are available to play and could make an impact now. After the draft, President Greg Bibb stated that the franchise needed more shooting, and he was confident in the players selected.
The team definitely needs more shooting after moving on from long-term players Allisha Gray, Tyasha Harris, Marina Mabrey, Kayla Thornton, and Isabelle Harrison. With the core of Dallas disassembled, and three of their top four perimeter shooters gone (Gray, Mabrey, Thornton), the drafting of Siegrist, Joens, and Meyers (who they didn’t keep) as shooters makes sense. Even so, the organization had two top-five picks, which could’ve been used to acquire more defensive power from the draft or packaged for a veteran.
Bibb still ensured veteran talent this season by acquiring Howard and Dangerfield as part of a four-team trade with Los Angeles, Connecticut, and New York. He also grabbed DeShields from Phoenix in another four-team trade with Chicago and New York. There was a lot of skepticism about these trades in particular because of how stacked the frontcourt became, leaving Charli Collier, McCowan, Sabally, Howard, and Awak Kuier on one roster without enough playing time.
Call us the Dallas Skyline 😏 pic.twitter.com/0XrREwN2Y8
— Dallas Wings (@DallasWings) May 3, 2023
How will the minutes be distributed? Who starts, and who’s on the bench? How can this skyline of players work cohesively? Is there enough room on the roster for them and the draft picks?
Lots of looming questions appeared, and the only way to tell was during the preseason (i.e., training camp).
Training Camp/Final Roster
On top of the new draft picks and veteran trades, the organization also signed Kitija Laksa to the team and Kalani Brown to a training camp contract. Laksa was suspended approximately two months after signing in order to remain in Europe to finish out her overseas commitment; Dallas retains her rights.
In looking at the preseason game versus the Fever, it was not entirely clear which players on the bubble would make the team. Draftee Abby Meyers only played one minute, which slightly gave away that Dallas was moving on from her. Joens and Brown played six minutes or less; Siegrist and Collier ran about nine minutes; and Jasmine Dickey played 10. No one provided much scoring either, with each logging four points or less.
Ultimately, the team decided to waive Meyers, Collier, and Brown, and announced their final roster on Wednesday.
Here is the full team roster.
Lou Lopez Sénéchal will undergo knee surgery next week and miss approximately 6-8 weeks of action.
Diamond DeShields will also miss extended time as she deals with a knee injury. pic.twitter.com/pjxTHUKIvg
— Jasmine Harper (@harperxxwrites) May 17, 2023
Unfortunately, bad news also came down the pipeline as it was announced DeShields will miss a chunk of the season due to another knee injury. DeShields has been dealt a bad hand of injuries throughout her career, and she was really excited throughout the preseason about her health and starting anew in Dallas.
With both Sénéchal and DeShields out for substantial time, the Wings are now at 10 players available. I predict they will exercise temporary contracts throughout the season like a hardship, emergency hardship, or possible seven-day contract to fill in the gaps until each player returns. A few available names that are readily available are DiDi Richards, Crystal Bradford, Monika Czinano, Jazmine Jones, and Brea Beal.
The Dallas Wings have undergone major changes during the offseason to gear up for a lengthy run. However, some of those moves may land them in hot water if managed incorrectly. With injuries emerging from the shadows, a new look team still working on its foundation, and picks stashed for the next year, Dallas could see itself fighting for a playoff spot again instead of coasting into the postseason. Ideally, the team was constructed to “win now,” while also allowing room for development for select players. However, limited availability could turn into a major problem, and the resurgence of multiple starting lineups, like previous seasons, may be on the horizon.
Should the Wings figure out their chemistry and system prior to WNBA All-Star in July, I’m predicting a second-round playoffs appearance. They have (and always had) the right tools in their box to sneak away wins, but this time it’s on a different scale. This season, it’s all about the Dallas Wings being consistent, disciplined and putting their best product on the floor.
Stats as of 5/19/23 and courtesy of ESPN.com and WNBA.com.