This weekly wrap covers the games from June 8 to June 14 (PHT). Check out last week’s edition here.
Game of the Week
The Dallas Wings might be young, but they sure seem ready to make noise now.
After playing the Seattle Storm better than anyone else in the league for three games, the Wings found themselves in another tight contest against the veteran lineup of the Phoenix Mercury last Wednesday. Arike Ogunbowale and Marina Mabrey, looking like the 2021 version of Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin, did most of the heavy lifting on offense throughout the game.
The Mercury, still without the GOAT Diana Taurasi, relied heavily on Skylar Diggins-Smith and Britney Griner to keep pace, but the Wings looked ready to take the game after Satou Sabally sprung free from the top of the key and drilled a 3-pointer that gave them an 81-70 lead with 1:41 to go in the game.
As exciting as their pace-and-space game is to watch, the Wings still have to learn how to close out games like this. The Mercury went on a 9-0 run, threatening to take the game back with 30 seconds left. Dallas could have easily avoided this had Ogunbowale not gotten a technical foul. But they had Mabrey bail them out, anyway.
Mabrey's looping foray to the rim sealed the win and capped a tremendous run for Dallas. Mabrey stuffed the stats sheet with 14 points, six rebounds and five assists. Ogunbowale led the way with 22 points on 7-for-14 shooting, which included three treys.
The Wings hold a 5-6 record, after winning another one against the Mercury but losing to the Las Vegas Aces to cap the week. Keep a close eye on the Wings so you’ll be ready for their eventual pop-off.
Teams in the spotlight
The Connecticut Sun had rolled through their early season schedule, going 8-2 in their first 10 games with a handful of wins earned through double-digit margins. For at least the next four games, however, the Sun will be tested as their leading scorer Jonquel Jones will miss action due to international commitments.
Jones, after skipping last season's bubble, has come back with a vengeance, averaging career-highs in points (21.6), rebounds (10.4), assists (3.0) and field goal percentage (56.8). She’s no doubt a top MVP contender right now.
For now, the Sun will have to find a way without their do-it-all forward. If their first game without her is any indication – an 89-66 loss to Seattle – it might be tough sledding. DeWanna Bonner is having another steady year, and the 12-year WNBA veteran will try to carry as much as she can. But look for the Sun’s other reliable stars like Brionna Jones to step up. Brionna continues her steady improvement and she'll most likely have games where she exceeds her 12.5 points average by a lot.
Speaking of veteran squads missing players, the Mercury are ever so close to having Diana Taurasi back. Taurasi suffered from a sternum fracture, which she played through for two games because she's a badass like that, but she has missed the last seven games.
The Mercury are still a team to reckon with even without Taurasi as Diggins-Smith, Griner, and the emerging Kia Nurse have brought them to a 5-6 record. Still, they’re going to need Taurasi back to reach the elite levels of Seattle, Connecticut, and Las Vegas. Phoenix could have her back as early as next week.
In case you forgot amidst all the hype on other teams this season, A’ja Wilson is still probably the best player in the league. The reigning MVP reminded us earlier today of just how easy she can make basketball look.
Wilson recorded her best game of the season so far, putting up 28 points on 10-for-18 shooting with 14 rebounds and three assists. Most teams in the league have adopted an outside-in approach on offense. The Aces have zagged, sticking with their in-in approach of having Wilson and Liz Cambage dominate.
Over in Washington, the Tina Charles renaissance continued with a bit of history. Last Friday, after dominating the Los Angeles Sparks with a 20 point-10 rebound double-double, Charles moved to second place in the league’s all-time double-double leaders, passing Sparks legend Lisa Leslie.
After an uneventful last two seasons with the Liberty, who would have thought that Charles would not only revive her career in Washington, but also play the best basketball of her life?
The beast is definitely back.
Watch out for…
Candace Parker is BACK – as in we got our first vintage CP performance this season and in a Chicago Sky jersey.
Parker had 15 points and five boards at halftime and didn’t take long to clinch her first Chicago double-double of 20 points and 14 rebounds.
If you only know Parker from carrying TNT's all-player Tuesday broadcasts, you missed out on one of the best all-around players to ever step on a WNBA court. Currently, Parker is chasing history, needing around 40 more assists to move up to 12th in the all-time rankings and pass legendary floor general Dawn Staley.
Watch out as CP continues to add to her legacy.