Los Angeles Sparks 2010 Season Preview
Playoff-bound, but title contenders?
We continue previewing the 2010 WNBA Season with the Los Angeles Sparks. You can read past previews here.
by Stephen Litel / @stephenlitel
The Los Angeles Sparks find themselves in a great situation this summer. That may seem an odd statement after the retirement of WNBA legend Lisa Leslie, but the fact remains that the Sparks are starting the process of rebuilding and it is going to start off perfectly.
The first step in any rebuilding process is to find the player you are going to build your team around and the Sparks already had that player in Candace Parker. If the team wasn’t already hers, it officially is now. Parker, who not only is the face of the franchise, but also the entire league, is simply one of the greatest two or three players in the WNBA, so step one was complete before the rebuilding even began.
While the rebuilding or retooling process begins, the Sparks also find themselves in the amazing situation of still having the talent to compete for a championship. After all, they made an amazing run in the second half of last season after Parker returned to the lineup, only to fall short in the Playoffs. Their tired, older legs were unable to keep up with the eventual champion Phoenix Mercury. Yet, with Parker in the lineup from the beginning, the team can begin to find their rotation, keeping those legs fresh for the Playoffs when their experienced players can take over and do what they do best.
Los Angeles also added a few new faces to the mix, most notably new head coach Jennifer Gillom and WNBA legend Ticha Penicheiro. Her addition to the team is great for two reasons, as she will be a wonderful mentor to the young perimeter players like Noelle Quinn and Andrea Riley, but she will also be able to help the team strive for their goal of a championship. With Riley learning about the league from one of the all-time greats, she should be able to learn about the league and how to succeed at a fine pace, eventually taking the reigns from Penicheiro once she is ready to hang them up.
The depth of the team’s post players is of concern behind Tina Thompson, Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton–who has played well in the pre-season–and Parker. As rosters are not set for opening night, it is difficult to truly determine who will get the nod. But the post players chosen to make the team behind these three will have the same opportunity as Riley: to learn behind Thompson and Parker. Whenever it may be down the line that Thompson decides to retire, the post players will have the opportunity to show they can be the post player to compliment Parker into the future.
As the respective glory days for players such as Penicheiro, Thompson, Betty Lennox, Delisha Milton-Jones and Marie Ferdinand Harris might be behind them, that does not mean many collective glory days cannot remain. They are all veterans who know how to win in the WNBA and expect nothing less than a championship. Whether or not they can achieve that goal in a Western Conference that features the reigning champion Phoenix Mercury, the always dependable Seattle Storm and the up-and-coming Minnesota Lynx remains to be seen. Yet, fans should expect another Playoff berth at the least in the summer of 2010.