The LA Sparks 2022 season has been filled with adversity. From coach Derek Fisher's surprise exit to a slimmer than usual roster due to injuries and health & safety protocols, there has been more losing than you want from one of the league's most iconic franchises. But time and time again, interim coach Fred Williams and the Sparks players have told us a turnaround will happen. "I remember in training camp, looking at May, thinking we just have to get to July," Liz Cambage said after Monday's win against the Phoenix Mercury.
July is here, and the Sparks have delivered on that promise. They've started the month 3-0, beating Dallas, New York, and Phoenix, and have the longest winning streak in the WNBA with their eyes set on getting back to .500 for the first time since mid-May.
Success can come in many forms from many places, but for the Sparks, it starts with Nneka Ogwumike. The Sparks MVP has stepped up her already stellar production, averaging 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 2.3 assists for the month of July, earning her AP Player of the Week Honors.
The personal accolades are great, but when asked about MVP talk, Nneka made it clear she's more focused on the team's accomplishments. "The individual accolades don't come because you did it by yourself. I owe it to my team; I owe it to the organization. I'm just grateful to be here, knowing where I was last year. I just feel so much, and I'm glad I dedicated my time to myself in 2022."
The players play and have the most significant impact on the game's results, but coaching matters. Since interim head coach Fred Willaims has taken over, the Sparks have gone 5-4, and the team's defensive rating is 99.9, the fourth-best in the league. Of course, it's not just the head coach that establishes that identity; Nneka praised the staff on what they've done collectively to optimize the team. "We have a coaching staff that really lets us understand what we are great at. We're playing against great teams, but we're a great team too.".
The Sparks season started with four straight road games and six of the first seven games being on the road, which was as difficult a beginning as one could draw up. Camabage talked about this when reflecting on how far the team has come. "I'm really proud of us for staying together because that first month could have really seen teams go the other way."
Dorothy said, "There's no place like home," and those words ring true for the Sparks. They are 5-4 at Crypto.com Arena, with five more home games left in this homestand. "I just love hooping with these ladies," Liz explained. "I'm happy we are on a little streak, and I'm ready to keep it rolling all of July." They have a chance to keep it rolling on Thursday night when they play the Seattle Storm.