With 4.6 seconds left in the half against the Dream on July 28, Olivia Nelson-Ododa inbounded the ball to Chennedy Carter. She took the ball coast to coast and beat the buzzer with not a heave from half court but a layup. She went coast to coast in less than five seconds, using only five dribbles, burning past all five Dream defenders.
The layup electrified the crowd in Crypto.com Arena and gave the Sparks a double-digit lead heading into the half. They went on to win the game.
Unfortunately, that’s the last game the Sparks have won. Since then, they’ve had a contract divorce with Liz Cambage, lost five straight, and have fallen out of the eight and final playoff spot. With only five games left, it’s time for the Sparks to go Hollywood and give Chennedy Carter a bigger role.
Hollywood is an interesting player in a tough situation. She is both past and future when it comes to the Sparks. As a Derek Fisher move, she is an investment from the previous regime. And the investment was quite heavy. The Sparks gave up Erica Wheeler, a 2022 second-round pick, and a 2023 first-round pick to Atlanta in exchange for Chennedy Carter and the rights to Li Yueru. At the time, Fisher was ecstatic about what Carter could bring to L.A. “At just 23 years old, we’re excited about the potential for her to be a star for many years to come.”
As a young prospect, she has the skill set to be a player the Sparks can build around. That’s if the team gives her that opportunity. Her production has taken a dip this season, but so have her minutes. She’s playing 15.6 minutes per game which is ten minutes below her career average. She went from an automatic starter in Atlanta to a bench player in L.A. She has embraced the role and has played well enough to be the Sparks Sixth Woman, but for a young player in the league, you’d want to see her playing more and getting an opportunity, especially as a guard.
I’m not sure if Carter is more so the past or the future, but I know she is the now. The Sparks need to win games. 538 has the odds of the Sparks making the playoffs down to just eight percent with the team projected to win only one more game this season. With the second-longest losing streak in the league and playoff hopes dwindling down, why not go to your exciting young guard you’ve invested so much in? A guard who can push the tempo, spark the offense, and give the team some life? Interim head coach Fred Williams has hinted at using Carter more and even starting her just last week when he was asked about it.
“I have considered that, it’s getting close,” Williams said. “And then her energy coming off the bench helps a lot; then I’d have to look at what energy I have coming off the bench if I do start her. So that’s something my staff and I will look at and talk about.”
Since then, there hasn’t been much looking at Chennedy Carter on the court. She played her regular 15 minutes against the Liberty and then was a DNP the next game against New York. Barring an injury unreported, Chennedy Carter playing zero minutes fully healthy when the team has so many injuries and is struggling to find success is perplexing. Carter should not only be playing; she may be the only player on the bench with the ability to explode offensively, just like she did against the Mercury last week when she scored 23 points shooting 80 percent from the field. Not many players in the WNBA have the ability to have an offensive outburst like that, and given the Sparks’ struggles scoring the basketball (second to last in points scored), giving Carter more time is worth a shot.
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Well, the time has come for the Sparks to try something different. The season is on the line, and you can’t dance with the one who brought you when you’re not where you want to be. Carter gives you the offense you’re desperately seeking, better pacing, and some much needed energy. It’s time for L.A. to go Hollywood and find out whether she’s a future star or a past sunk cost.