12 Days, 12 Previews: Los Angeles Sparks
Five keys to a successful season.
The WNBA’s 15th season begins June 3rd and SLAMonline is counting down the days with in-depth previews of all twelve teams.
Prior to the start of each WNBA season (and NBA season for that matter), every writer and blogger in the country compiles extensive (by “extensive” I mean “wordy,” and by “wordy” I mean “tired”) previews analyzing the upcoming year, team by team. It’s just a fact of life. Almost as certain as death and taxes.
The problem, however, is they all look, feel, and say the same exact thing every year (copy and paste). You, the reader, deserves far better. Thus, we’re going through each team discussing five specific things they’ll need for their 2011 campaign to be considered a success.
More importantly, we want this to be interactive – be sure to post your thoughts in the comment section below.
Five Keys to the Season: Los Angeles Sparks
By Ben York / @bjyork
5. Scoring: Averaging 77.9 ppg in 2010, the Sparks will need to increase that output a bit in 2011 to hang with the Mercury and Lynx who will both be much better offensively. That shouldn’t be a problem though; Candace Parker returns fully healthy and the addition of Ebony Hoffman should help Los Angeles get closer to the low 80′s in terms of points per game.
Getting to the line will be crucial for their scoring output as well. In 2010, they got to the line just 18 times each night (11th in the league). When they did get to the line, they made 82.2 percent of their free-throws which is a good sign heading into 2011.
4. Rebounding: With Candace Parker’s absence, the Sparks were 11th in the league in average rebounds in 2010 (30.8). Even worse, they were last in the league in offensive rebounds per game (7.7).
This should change with Parker back for the year and the acquisition of Ebony Hoffman adds another 4-5 rebounds each night. Rebounding the ball affects everything this team does; it will help them in transition and create more scoring opportunities (leading to more points).
3. Legends: Tina Thompson, Delisha Milton-Jones, and Ticha Penicheiro have never received the respect they deserve. Thompson is the league’s all-time leading scorer, Milton-Jones is ascending the leader board in a variety of statistical categories, and Penicheiro is one of the best point guards to ever play women’s basketball.
We’ve never really seen what they can do when they have a fully healthy team alongside Candace Parker. Throughout the past couple of seasons, there has been at least one player injured for the majority of the season. In 2011, let’s hope the team remains healthy because when they are, they’re one of the most fun teams to watch in the WNBA.
2. Cohesion: With Parker back, how quickly can this team gel? When healthy, they are one of the more deeper teams in the entire WNBA. This also means that players will need to understand what their role is and be ready to contribute when needed.
If you look at the last few championship teams in the league, each team had their superstars but they also had their fantastic role players who became invaluable during the long playoff run.
1. Candace Parker: Healthy. Rested. Motivated. Watch out.
Candace Parker began the 2010 season completely dominating; she averaged 20.6 ppg and 10.1 rpg while shooting 50 percent from the floor. Unreal.
Not only do I anticipate these stats increasing in 2011, look for Parker to again be a legitimate MVP candidate. The Sparks could prove a lot of people wrong this year.
What do you think? Let us know your thoughts and we’ll tweet out some of our favorite responses!