The Dallas Wings are going to be incredibly busy on Friday when the 2020 WNBA Draft commences. In fact, things have already started as they got involved in awith the New York Liberty and Washington Mystics on Wednesday morning. The Wings traded guard Tayler Hill, their ninth overall pick and a 2020 second-round pick to the Liberty, in exchange for a 2021 second-round pick from New York, and a 2021 first-round pick from the Mystics. The deal was centered around former league MVP Tina Charles, who was traded from New York to Washington, but Dallas got involved to secure more assets for the future.
With the remaining three first-round picks, the team will try to bolster up its talent base in Dallas after another offseason where a star player requested a trade from the franchise. In back-to-back seasons, the Wings lost All-Stars Liz Cambage and Skylar Diggins-Smith after both players felt their time with the franchise was at end.
Both of those trades netted the Wings a slew of draft picks that convey this year, including the Aces' first- and second-round picks, and two first-rounders from the Mercury, one of which was sent to New York as part of the aforementioned trade. There's several areas where the Wings can stand to improve, after finishing the 2019 season with a 10-24 record. While the 2020 draft isn't as loaded as the year prior, there's still a lot of value to be had in the first round. So, let's break down what Dallas could do on Friday night with its three first-round picks.
Filling the need for a starting point guard
Although rookie Arike Ogunbowale did an admirable job of taking on the duty of being the starting point guard for Dallas last season, she's never been a point guard in her playing career, and excelled at Notre Dame in the shooting guard slot. She was third in the league in points per game (19.1), but averaged just 3.2 assists. She thrived in college by having guards around her who looked to feed her the ball, like Jackie Young and Marina Mabrey, the latter of which the Wings acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Sparks. Mabrey's a versatile guard who can play both backcourt positions, but with three top-10 picks on Friday, using one of those on a more dynamic guard should be at the top of the Wings' list.
Wings general manager Greg Bibb said in a radio appearance on Dallas' 105.3 The Fan, that picking a point guard is certainly on their mind heading into draft night.
"We have Mariah Jefferson that will be on the team this year. We acquired her in the Liz Cambage trade from Las Vegas, but she did not play last year as she was resting her knee that was surgically repaired, but she's ready to go," Bibb said. "We'll have one point guard on the roster for sure, and we have some others who can play that position, but I would say looking at our options at the point guard position in the draft is certainly on the list."
In, we have the Wings selecting Oregon forward Satou Sabally with the No. 2 pick in the draft. That seems like a lock at this point, given the fact that she's the best player on the board behind teammate Sabrina Ionescu, who is slotted to go No. 1 overall. After that, though, with picks five and seven, Dallas will have several options to choose from to fill its point guard need.
We have the Wings selecting UConn guard Crystal Dangerfield with the No. 5 pick, and while she's just 5-foot-5, she's a speedy guard who has experience running point at one of the top programs in the country. She averaged 14.9 points and four assists per game, and showed a penchant for being able to hit teammates with halfcourt passes on the break that led to easy buckets. Despite her size, she's shown to be a good defender, although she will be targeted by opposing teams who will look to find ways to exploit her small stature.
If it's not Dangerfield, there will be plenty of options at point guard on the board for the Wings, whether they take someone at the No. 5 pick or later.
Shooting and versatility
Last season, the Wings ranked second-to-last in the league in field goal percentage (38.9 percent) and 10th in 3-point shooting (32.6 percent). So it's no surprise that Bibb will be focusing on players who can shoot consistently, and can take some of the scoring burden off of Ogunbowale, who had the highest usage rate in the league (28.8 percent) as a rookie.
"We certainly left last year knowing that we needed to improve our ability to shoot the basketball consistently, especially from distance," Bibb said. "Some of the deals we've already made, specifically bringing in Katie Lou Samuelson from Chicago is addressing that need, but I think that's also a priority in this draft in terms of being able to shoot the basketball."
This year's draft may not have a ton of star power, but it does have a deep well of players who can shoot from 3-point range. Baylor guard Te'a Cooper shot 41.5 percent from 3-point territory, and will likely be on the board for Dallas to pick with either the No. 5 or No. 7 pick. There's also South Carolina forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan, whose 43.5 percent 3-point shooting is reason enough to take a chance on the versatile 6-2 forward.
The Wings want shooting, and Bibb also said they want to find players in the draft capable of playing multiple positions. That's certainly available in this year's draft, and if Dallas needs to move up to get that, it definitely has the assets to make that happen.
More trades on the horizon?
Just because the Wings traded out of the No. 9 spot doesn't mean they're done making moves. With the amount of draft capital they posses, they could still try and move up in the draft if there's someone they really want. Wings head coach Brian Agler told High Post Hoops that finding playmakers is at the top of his list for what Dallas needs.
Maybe the Wings try and trade up to the No. 3 spot and grab Texas A&M scoring machine Chennedy Carter, who we expect to be drafted fourth by the Atlanta Dream. Pairing her with Ogunbowale would create one of the most terrifying scoring backcourts in the league for years to come. It not only fills the need of finding a point guard, but Carter is as creative of a player as they come on offense, which would greatly benefit Dallas. Or maybe the Wings decide to shore up on future assets and take a look toward next year's draft, where there will undoubtedly be more quality players to choose from to continue their rebuild.
Either way, there's plenty of options on the table for a Dallas team that is looking to make a splash in a big way after losing its biggest stars in back-to-back offseasons. Whether the Wings keep all of their picks, or trade more of them, they hold a lot of power heading into Friday night with a chance to reset their franchise and start from the ground up in building a playoff team for the future.