Who Are the Dallas Wings: Rookies
The Dallas Wings would really like to forget their inaugural season in the Metroplex. The squad finished with an 11-23 record, the second worst record in the WNBA, and ended up with the 3rd pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft1. There are 12 teams in the WNBA, eight of those teams make the playoffs, and the Wings were not one of them… The Wings first season in Dallas was possibly the worst first date you could image. But after an offseason of trades, drafting, and shuffling only six of the 13 players that suited up for the Wings remain on the roster. Let’s take a look at the six new players on the squad this season.
In this breakdown, we will list some NBA comparisons for reference. These comparisons do not reflect the level of play so much as the style of play. For example, we compare rookie guard Saniya Chong to Jeff Teague but she is not a starter level player yet. Chong is a good scorer, passer, and decent defender though.
The first pick of the Dallas Wings in the 2017 WNBA Draft might have the most upside of the three. Akhator is a 6’3” forward who played 4 years at Kentucky after coming to the States from Nigeria. In her senior season at UK she averaged 15/10 points/rebounds per game and accumulated 45 steals and 29 blocks in 33 games. Akhator is a good post played that shot 57% from the field during her senior year and just under 70% from the FT line.
While she did average 15.9 points per game it was her defense that drew the eyes of the Wings front office. Despite four years of college, she is still considered a project and it was a surprise to most that she was drafted in the top 3. Her NBA Comparison2 is a combination of Andre Drummond and Draymond Green. Ahkator is a gifted athlete, defender, and rebounder. So improve Drummond’s Free Throw percentage and limit Draymond’s passing ability and Evelyn Ahkator should meet in the middle of those two.
The first of the two former Gamecocks that the Wings drafted is Alisha Gray. After spending two years at North Carolina Gray became a National Champion with South Carolina. In 37 games she averaged 13.2/4.9/2.5 points/rebounds/assists and really fills up a stat sheet. Defensively she swatted 24 shots and grabbed 48 steals which was almost as many as Ahkator who is significantly taller and longer than Gray. Gray was selected 4th overall by the Wings and was called the most versatile player in the draft.
Her three-point shot is somewhat of a mystery. She only shot 31% from three at South Carolina but in her first year at North Carolina she shot 41% and was considered a sharp shooter. During her second year at NC, her three-point percentage dropped all the way down to 31% a 10% drop in three-point percentage is semi-alarming. Two seasons of 31% from behind the arc might be more of the norm and 41% might be just an outlier, but the discrepancy is intriguing. That 41% isn’t necessarily a fluke either, in her freshman year at NC she made 64-of-153 three-point shots.
Her NBA Comparison is Dwyane Wade because of her driving abilities, inconsistent outside shot3, defensive potential, and leadership.
Kaela Davis was the 10th pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft and the third first-round pick of the Wings. Many believed she would go much higher and the Wings could not pass up reuniting the two former teammates, and she has been called the steal of the draft. Davis also spent two seasons at a different school, Georgia Tech, before transferring over to South Carolina. Davis led the AAC in scoring (19.2 points per game) as a sophomore and averaged 18.6/5.6/1 points/rebounds/steals per game her freshman year. Davis is a proven scorer whose three-point shooting has also fluctuated. She shot 35% her first season at GT, 29% in her second, and then 35% last season at SC.
At 6’2” Davis is a bigger guard that can guard 2s, 3s, and possibly some 4s in the WNBA. That versatility allows her to play with any combination of guards and forwards that the Wings could utilize. For that reason, her NBA comparison is the Mavericks own Harrison Barnes. She is a consistent scorer, has guard skills at the size of a forward, and she can both play/guard multiple positions.
Also, it’s worth noting that her dad is former NBA big man Antonio Davis.
At 6’5” Lewis is the ideal size for a WNBA center and posted pretty impressive numbers coming out of Kansas State. Lewis was taken 23rd overall (2nd Round) by the Wings to replace the loss of backup center Ruth Hamblin who decided to sit out the 2017 season to focus on the Olympics4 In her senior year a KS, Lewis grabbed 8.2 rebounds per game and 3 of those were offensive boards. Her scoring average dipped her senior year from 16.7 to 13.9 and her blocked totals have dropped ever since swatting 97(!) shots her sophomore year. Those dips are concerning but so are her free throw percentages over the past four years (40%, 56%, 47%, 52%).
Her size and rebounding ability will give her a chance in the WNBA but her foot speed and free throw percentage must improve if she wants a bigger role on the team. Robin Lopez is her NBA Comparison because of her rim protection, rebounding, and offense around the rim.
The only UCONN Huskey to be taken in the 2017 Draft was selected 26th overall (3rd Round) and was the 33rd UConn player to be selected in the 20 years of the league’s existence. The transition of Erin Phillips from backcourt to front office has given Chong the opportunity to make the roster and earn playing time.
Chong is a solid all around guard that was never quite able to put it all together at the college level. Her minutes fluctuated behind the insane talent pool at UConn until her senior season when she started in 33 of 34 games and played over 1000 minutes (300 minutes more than she had in any other season). She is a good-to-great three point shooter and her percentage increased every single season: 32%, 36%, 37%, 39%. That improvement was encouraging, even if it had Geno Auriemma wanting to keep her locked up in a bubble like a weird basketball robot. 5
As an offensively gifted guard that can shoot, played all four years in college, and was under-drafted her NBA Comparison is the Mavericks own Yogi Ferrell.
*Stats Via gamecocksonline.com, ramblinwreck.com, ukathletics.com, kstatesports.com
*Photos Via Wings.wnba.com
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- Her shot is better than Wade’s was/is and more consistent but coming into this year it hasn’t been
- That doesn’t make any sense to me but I’ve never been a professional women’s basketball player
- Stay Creepy Geno
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