Dallas Wings 2022 Season Preview: Taking Another Leap Forward

In an off-season where player movement shook up the face of the league, the Wings stood pat.

We’ll see Dallas run back the same core group of players this year, banking on internal development and continued momentum.

2021 marked a season of growth for Dallas. The rebuilding franchise, who owned most of the first round of the draft that season, found its way into the playoffs and out of the lottery. In the scheme of the entire league, the Wings were about as average as a team can be. They finished 6th on offense, 8th on defense, and had a -0.8 net rating overall.

Playmaking was a notable weakness offensively. Much of their offense was generated through isolation by star guard Arike Ogunbowale. When she’s unable to score efficiently, or on the bench, the Wings have had trouble getting into a rhythm consistently scoring the basketball. Dallas solidified her status as franchise player with a lucrative contract extension that kicks in next season.

Coach Vickie Johnson took over the team and played a longer rotation than most WNBA teams. 11 different players saw over ten games per minute, and ten players started at least one game for the Wings.

Let’s dive into the Wings’ offseason transactions and some potential outcomes of the 2022 season:

Key Departures

  • Bella Alarie (C)

The only core player that won’t be returning this year is actually still a member of the franchise. The reasons behind it have not been disclosed, but Bella Alarie will not be with the team this season due to personal reasons. Her contract has been suspended for the season and the Wings will be able to roster a 12th player in her stead.

Key Additions

  • Teaira McCowan (C)

Bucking the trend of recent years, Dallas finally traded out draft picks to acquire a young talent instead of selling pieces off for them. They were able to nab McCowan from the Fever and add her to their front court rotation.

In three WNBA seasons, the 6’5″ center has established herself as one of the league’s premier rebounders. McCowan has grabbed over three offensive rebounds per game each season, and is known for putting them back up efficiently.

We’ve yet to see Teaira establish another elite-level skillset. Some areas of opportunity include expanding her shooting range and making a leap on defense.

With Alarie out of the lineup all year, McCowan has an opportunity to play major minutes for this team and potentially compete for the starting job over Harrison.

Draft Picks

  • 7th: Veronica Burton
  • 30th: Jasmine Dickey
  • 31st: Jazz Bond

The Wings addressed their need for a playmaking, two-way guard by taking Veronica Burton with the 7th overall pick. In her storied career at Northwestern, Burton was known as an absolute menace on-ball defender and led the NCAA in steals her senior season.

Coach Johnson isn’t known for doling out minutes to rookies, but Burton’s skillset addresses two big areas of need from last season and it’s quite possible she could find herself in the thick of the rotation this year.

Burton will almost certainly be the only 2022 draftee to make the roster this year, and the team may have to waive Chelsea Dungee to make room for their latest addition.

Projected Starting Lineup

  • G: Arike Ogunbowale
  • G: Marina Mabrey
  • F: Allisha Gray
  • F: Satou Sabally
  • C: Isabelle Harrison

Coach Johnson has an incredible array of options to form her starting and closing five. These five players are very familiar with the system and have proven to be solid performer in important games.

Satou, Allisha, and Arike are pretty solid locks to start and close games as long as they’re healthy. These three players are dynamic, versatile, and plus athletes. Arike is going to have a ton of responsibility on the offensive end, so don’t expect her to be lined up against the other team’s perimeter scorer.

The other guard spot, which I’m projecting to be occupied by Mabrey, could go to Ty Harris if the Wings opt for more of a pass-first, playmaking guard to play alongside Arike.

With Izzy Harrison (6’3″) at the five you are giving up size to a lot of the league’s elite post scorers. If McCowan can come out of the gates with some improvement defensively, it’s quite possible that she’ll be plugged in at center depending on the matchup.

Season Outlook

It’s imperative that the Wings discover who their best 8-9 players are and lean into a shorter rotation. At times it almost feels like this roster is too deep. If any team in the WNBA could afford to lean into a two (or three) for one trade to steal a star player from a tanking team at the deadline, it’s Dallas.

The ultimate outcome of this season is going to depend on how many players can significantly improve. With such a young roster, and limited roster flexibility, you’re banking on internal development to be the catalyst of team growth.

If Arike can score a bit more efficiently and improve as a playmaker, she will take a leap to bonafide superstar and propel this team into true contender status. Since she plays with such a high usage rate, the team will go as she goes. If her efficiency numbers remain flat and she doesn’t find a way to impact the game in other areas, the Wings are going to stagnate.

Can the Wings take a leap and enter the playoffs as a true contender? Sure, it’s possible. Can they regress and end up back in the lottery? Absolutely. The most likely outcome is similar to last season: ending up smack dab in the middle of the pack.

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Founder of HoopSocial. Girl Dad. WNBA stan. Syracuse Orange and Charlotte Hornets fan. Sarcasm is my native tongue. You can follow me on Twitter at @mike_hoopsocial.