It’s been a busy offseason for the Dallas Wings, who made several significant changes after a second-straight playoff appearance — and a second-straight first-round exit. The Wings replaced head coach Vickie Johnson with Latricia Trammell and were involved in numerous trades that sent fan favorites such as Allisha Gray, Marina Mabrey and Kayla Thornton elsewhere.
On the other side of these transactions were former All-Stars Natasha Howard and Diamond DeShields, who figure to play prominent roles as the Wings try to take another step forward and become a true WNBA championship contender. Dallas still has some work to do to finalize its 2023 roster, however, and the upcoming WNBA Draft will allow the team to do just that.
The Wings’ draft capital
Dallas currently owns five picks in the 2023 WNBA Draft, including three first-round picks. They are:
- Round 1, Pick No. 3 (acquired in January’s trade that sent Gray to the Atlanta Dream)
- Round 1, Pick No. 5 (acquired in February’s four-team trade that sent Mabrey to the Chicago Sky)
- Round 1, Pick No. 11 (acquired along with Teaira McCowan in last season’s trade with the Indiana Fever)
- Round 2, Pick No. 19
- Round 3, Pick No. 31
Assessing the Wings’ needs entering the draft
In contrast to the 2022 WNBA Draft — when Dallas didn’t have much to do, even in the first round — the 2023 WNBA Draft gives the Wings the opportunity to fill out a roster that will have a handful of spots up for competition prior to the season. Dallas added guard/forward DeShields and forward Howard via trades during the 2023 free agency period, but lost guards Mabrey and Tyasha Harris, forwards Thornton and Isabelle Harrison and guard/forward Gray, while center Bella Alarie announced her retirement, so the team will need at least a couple of players to step into those spots in its rotation.
Of course, whoever the Wings draft won’t be guaranteed those spots. Dallas made several additional signings, including guards Crystal Dangerfield and Kitija Laksa and center Kalani Brown. None of these players’ contracts are guaranteed (though Dangerfield’s is for two seasons and above the veteran minimum salary, suggesting the Wings are banking on her to make the final roster), so the Wings could theoretically waive them and not have them count against the team’s salary cap, but it’s unlikely that none of them will make the team for 2023. Dallas also retains forwards Awak Kuier and Jasmine Dickey and center Charli Collier from last season; none of these players are on guaranteed contracts.
As far as returning players who have essentially already made the team for 2023, franchise cornerstones Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally are locks, while second-year guard Veronica Burton will likely be starting alongside Ogunbowale in the Wings’ backcourt. Sabally, in particular, is capable of playing several positions; seeing as Dallas invested a large amount of money in two traditional bigs in Howard and McCowan, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Trammell play Sabally on the perimeter in bigger lineups.
Regardless of how Trammell’s rotations shake out, the Wings seem to have more of an opportunity for rookies to contribute in the backcourt than in recent seasons, and with three first-round draft picks, they’ll have plenty of options available to fill those roster spots.
Who will the Wings draft in 2023?
Though it’s a foregone conclusion that South Carolina center Aliyah Boston will be drafted at No. 1 overall by the Indiana Fever, the Minnesota Lynx could go in several directions with pick No. 2, each of which would still allow the Wings to choose a perimeter player at No. 3.
Diamond Miller (Maryland) is a name that has stood out for much of the 2022-23 NCAA season and will certainly be on the Wings’ radar. A long wingspan and a unique ability to finish at the basket make Miller one of the most intriguing players in the 2023 draft class, and her athletic upside would make her difficult for Dallas to pass up at No. 3.
Similarly, Jordan Horston (Tennessee) brings both size and athleticism on the perimeter, and her playmaking ability separates her from most other players at her height. She and DeShields would form an explosive duo, and if the Wings draft her, it would give them another value-added passer who can make plays for her teammates.
Haley Jones (Stanford) is another perimeter-oriented draft candidate, though her game blurs many traditional positional lines. Jones is a gifted passer and versatile defender who also boasts a strong frame, though her draft stock may have fallen a bit after she struggled shooting the ball for much of the 2022-23 season.
Then there’s Maddy Siegrist (Villanova), who plays more as a traditional forward despite being fully capable of scoring from the outside. In the event that Brown doesn’t make the roster and the Wings move on from Collier, Dallas could draft Siegrist and slot her in behind their starters to give their frontcourt more optionality on offense.
Finally, if the Wings choose to add another guard through the draft, players like Grace Berger (Indiana) and Charisma Osborne (UCLA) would be options. While neither of those players profile as primary ball handlers (except, perhaps, for Berger), they’re capable of playing either guard position on offense, should Dallas choose not to keep Dangerfield and/or Laksa on its roster.