Happy Turkey Day! We hope that you enjoy your times with your families on this special day.
We here at Swish Appeal have come up with some things that each WNBA team's fanbase is thankful for, and we also came up with some offseason wishes that they would want for the Christmas holiday since Black Friday will be the craze tomorrow.
Once again, Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving weekend!
What are they thankful for? Shoni Schimmel. For a team that struggles sometimes to get the recognition they deserve, Schimmel gave them some and then more. She was named the All-Star Game MVP, has the best-selling jersey in the WNBA and has brought the Dream recognition where it didn't have it before.
Offseason Wish? That everyone gets back healthy from overseas play. Angel McCoughtry and Sancho Lyttle play at the highest levels overseas for Fenerbahce and Galatasaray and the Dream will need them healthy come 2015.
What are they thankful for? A relatively young roster that figures to be the best in the East for some time to come. The team's front court with Elena Delle Donne and Sylvia Fowles, along with an All-Star backcourt of Courtney Vandersloot and Epiphanny Prince makes up the most talented roster in the conference.
Offseason Wish? A healthy 2015 season. The 2014 season record was deflated due to injuries and illnesses to Delle Donne, Fowles, and Vandersloot. Fortunately, they were healthy in time for the playoffs and this helped them get to the Finals.
What are they thankful for? A bumper crop of young talent. The Sun has two lottery picks in both the 2014 and 2015 Drafts. Chiney Ogwumike and Alyssa Thomas were All-Rookie Team players this past season, and the 2015 picks should help beef up the rotation, or they could be used as trade chips for another more established player. And in case you forgot, Chelsea Gray, the 11th pick of the 2014 Draft will also play next year. She could have been a lottery pick if it weren't for a late season injury.
Offseason Wish? Seeing the young talent gel for a deep playoff run in 2015. I know that Breanna Stewart goes to college close to the Casino, but this fanbase is also used to winning, which they did on a regular basis when Mike Thibault was here. They may already very well have the pieces to make the Finals, but they just have to get the chemistry to do it together.
What are they thankful for? Seven years of Lin Dunn's excellent coaching. While in Indiana, Dunn led the Fever to the playoffs every season which includes two Finals appearances and the 2012 WNBA championship. They also are thankful for a clear succession plan into new eras of the franchise, which include Stephanie White assuming the head coach role for the 2015 season, and forward Tamika Catchings announcing that she will retire after the 2016 season.
Offseason Wish? Two more healthy and productive years from Tamika Catchings. Last year, she was sidelined for half of the 2014 season due to injury, but still had a strong showing in the games she did play. Here's to hoping that she can finish the 2015 and 2016 seasons healthy and end her career on the right note.
Los Angeles Sparks
What are they thankful for? Magic Johnson and Guggenheim Partners. The investment group bought the franchise just one month after former owner Paula Madison walked away from the team due to financial losses. If Johnson and Guggenheim didn't buy the team, they would have relocated or possibly folded.
Offseason Wish? With the peace of mind that an uber-rich ownership group has taken over in L.A., the focus now goes on basketball, where there are three equally important wishes. First, the Sparks need to find more three point shooting, STAT. In 2014, they were dead last in three point shots made and attempts by a significant margin. They only have one player, Kristi Toliver who is an elite shooter.
Second, L.A. needs to resolve their bumper crop of frontcourt talent where Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike, and Jantel Lavender play. Perhaps one of these players should be traded for some more shooters. If I have to guess who's trade bait, it's Ogwumike, given that she's not in her prime just yet and should get a lot of interest by other teams.
Third, the Sparks need to find a good head coach who can get into Parker's head and get her playing in a WNBA Finals.
What are they thankful for? Four consecutive 25-win seasons which include four straight appearances in the Western Conference Finals, three consecutive finals appearances in 2011-2013, and two WNBA titles.
Offseason Wish? Additional bench depth. Though this team's starting five is still one of the best in the league with Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen, Rebekkah Brunson, and Janel McCarville, four of these players are now over 30 years old, and they are going to decline from hereon. They don't have to blow up the team obviously because they still are very much in the championship picture. But there needs to be some better bench players, to give the vets longer breathers.
Cheryl Reeve has been overdependent on the starters in the last two seasons, which has worked for the most part. But at some point, it won't. That day is sooner rather than later.
New York Liberty
What are they thankful for? A return to Madison Square Garden, where renovations are now complete. Those three years at Prudential Center in Newark were something that hurt the fans' morale.
Offseason Wish? More youth. The Liberty gave up three consecutive Top-5 draft picks to the Connecticut Sun to get Tina Charles who is now in her prime. But that trade also gives them little room to develop with youth. Finding a diamond in the rough with Anna Cruz (who is going to be a 29-year old sophomore) helps, but they need to be open to trading some of their better players like Cappie Pondexter and Essence Carson to get more draft picks and young prospects.
What are they thankful for? A dynamic starting five. In no particular order: Diana Taurasi. Brittney Griner. Penny Taylor. Candice Dupree. DeWanna Bonner. What exactly are opponents supposed to do against that? The bench was an issue at times, but they have so much firepower and such a great blend of offense and defense (finally) that there's not much weakness there.
Offseason Wish? Three point range for Candice Dupree. This is a reach -- it's always a struggle to discuss what The 1% need as The 99% struggle - but in the year before Dupree came to Phoenix she was a very respectable 24-for-62 (38.7%) from three. She has made just one in five years with Phoenix. Just throwing this out there: how much more lethal would the Mercury be if Dupree was a stretch four who could knock down threes consistently? The line has been moved back since her Chicago Sky days, so a few more feet on her 2014 range would add a new dynamic to this team.
San Antonio Stars
What are they thankful for?: Dan Hughes' player development skills. Under his leadership, a number of unheralded draft picks have been successful, including Danielle Robinson, Danielle Adams, Jayne Appel, and of course, former franchise star Becky Hammon. As a result, D-Rob in particular is poised to be one of the WNBA's top point guards over the next several years, and that's something remarkable.
Offseason Wish? Find another major star player. Like the Washington Mystics, this team still doesn't have many lottery picks, even though Kayla McBride is a welcome and sorely needed addition to the team. While it's possible that McBride could be such a player, you really need two superstars to win the Western Conference. Example: Phoenix with Taurasi and Griner in 2014; Minnesota with Moore and Augustus in 2011 and 2013; Seattle with Bird and Jackson in 2010.
Right now, this team may have one such star in McBride, at best. So if you call McBride a superstar in the making, who will be the next? Maybe D-Rob could also develop into that role (we're rooting for her to do it), but if not, it's hard to say how this team can get such a star without missing the playoffs.
What are they thankful for? The top pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft. After a difficult season that landed the Storm and its aging roster back in the draft lottery, they managed to win the right to select first in the 2015 WNBA Draft. With the careers of Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson winding down, the addition of a young star would be great for the franchise.
Offseason Wish? The emergence of a star talent worthy of a top pick. This may well end up being the weakest draft in league history. And it's not like recent weak drafts with a clear All-Star at the top and then a drop-off: there might not end up being any stars in this class. BUT all Seattle needs is one player to clearly separate themselves as a potential superstar between now and draft day. It's a tall order for Santa, but hey - Christmas Day miracles have been known to happen. Or maybe Santa can bring them the always-risky "off-list gift": a trade proposal from a team willing to give them an All-Star for the top pick.
What are they thankful for?: A nice group of young backcourt talent. Having Skylar Diggins, Odyssey Sims, and Riquna Williams is definitely a welcome asset for this team. It's improbable that all three of them can stay together long term, because they're high usage guards who like to shoot the basketball, and they're all 5'7 to 5'9. But on the bright side, this does give them some additional trade options to fulfill their offseason wishes. They won't trade Diggins, but perhaps Sims or Williams could be.
Offseason Wish? This team has two equally important wishes. First, they need a veteran leader. This team does have some seasoned veterans like Roneeka Hodges and Jennifer Lacy, but neither of these two have been major players on top teams. Getting someone who could be a Top-3 player on almost any WNBA team could be a big plus for this young team.
The second wish is to add more depth. After the aforementioned Diggins, Sims, and Williams, as well as Glory Johnson and Courtney Paris, this team really doesn't have much bench depth. The Shock should be a playoff team in 2015, but they will need to be aggressive in free agency and with trades to make sure that happens.
What are they thankful for? Front Office stability. With Mike Thibault as the General Manager and Head Coach, there should be no question as to whether this man knows what he is doing. In addition, should Thibault complete the 2015 season without resigning or getting terminated midseason, he will be the longest-serving head coach in franchise history. Three years isn't much time for most elite coaches. But for Mystics standards, it is. We'll hedge our bets and say that he will be in D.C. for years to come.
Offseason Wish? A franchise player is the obvious wish, but they're not going to get that player in 2015 unless they have a top draft pick, which they don't have. In the interim, the wish is to see this team get as young as possible for 2015 given that they are already moving in that direction.
To get considerably younger, they'll have to let go of all of their 2014 veteran starters like Ivory Latta, Kia Vaughn, and Monique Currie. They would be replaced with more draft picks and young prospects. This will allow their most important young players: Bria Hartley, Tayler Hill, Stefanie Dolson, and Emma Meesseman to REALLY show what they can do together as featured players on the team.
There's a good possibility that that team -- if it becomes a reality -- could be significantly worse than the 2014 team in the standings. But it will allow Thibault to coach up his players without potentially hurting his chances to draft and work with an elite player in 2016. If the Mystics follow through with this type of change, it could even allow a legitimate superstar will emerge out of the four young players we mentioned, so we'll see.