We have burning questions for new WNBA coaches
It didn’t take until the beginning of December for all five WNBA coaching vacancies to be filled. The Sparks kicked off a hiring spree this year by poaching Curt Miller from the sun. The Fever has hired Dream’s assistant Christy Sides To be their next coach, the Wings have hired a Los Angeles assistant Latricia Trammell as their replacement for Vicki Johnson.
With Miller heading west, Connecticut brought in former Indiana head coach Stephanie White. In a less dramatic turnaround, Washington’s Mike Thibault announced his decision to retire from coaching, as the team promoted his son and longtime Mystics assistant coach, Eric Thibault, to the helm. Much about what the W will look like next season will rank itself in free agency, but with the coaching circuit on hold (for now), here are five burning questions about the five moves that were just settled.
How would a Connecticut offense look different?
For the entirety of last season, Miller and his coaching staff tried to figure out how to get the most out of the Big Three stars for his team. Prior to the All-Star break, Jonquil Jones, Breonna Jones, and Alyssa Thomas had played together in 20 games, averaging 10.6 minutes per appearance. After the break, they had played together in just three regular season games, for the full six minutes. That starting lineup may not be the same when next season begins, as Breonna Jones is slated to hit unrestricted free agency. But whether she returns or not, White will likely explore a few different tactics to try and get the most out of Connecticut’s talent.
“It’s about the people, 100%.”
new boss @employee She talks about why she wants to be a part of the Connecticut Sun 🧡
Watch the full introductory press conference here: https://t.co/zOHBS02mph pic.twitter.com/GwSIWb7GXm
– Connecticut Sun (@ConnecticutSun) November 23, 2022
Although the Sun was No. 2 offensively rated last year, their lack of 3-point shooting—they attempted and made the second-fewest 3-pointers of any team in the WNBA—proved to be a significant limitation in the postseason. , and the spacing between floors often became an issue. Guards Courtney Williams and Natisha Hedman are also free to join other squads, creating more uncertainty about what the roster will look like. If White is looking to make her mark felt, the best way to do that is to attack. Don’t be surprised to see added focus on floor spacing and perimeter shooting as the Sun looks to take its elusive first title.
Will the Dallas defense take a step forward?
Trammel has established herself as one of the best defensive coaches in the WNBA in recent seasons. Four players made the WNBA All-Defensive Teams during her four years with the Sparks, and three times during that span, Los Angeles finished in the top three in the defensive rankings. It’s safe to assume that Trammel will try to improve on the Wings from the 104.3 points per 100 possession mark they’ve collected in what turns out to be Vickie Johnson’s final campaign with the franchise. Trammel prides itself on being a coach who builds strong relationships with her players. If they can connect with a core that likely looks similar to the one they came out with last season, Dallas should be able to improve on their No. 9 defensive ranking last season and their No. 8 defensive ranking in 2021.
How will the Fever make the most of their talented frontcourt?
This question includes an important assumption: that Indiana selects South Carolina star forward Aliyah Boston #1 in this spring’s WNBA draft. But assuming Boston opens next season in Fever uniforms, new coach Christie Sides will immediately face a rotation dilemma, albeit a positive one. After taking NaLyssa Smith, Emily Engstler and Queen Egbo among the top 10 picks from last year’s draft, the Sides will have four forwards 23 or younger when next season ends. The three who were on the roster last year have been produced in their debut campaigns, with Egbo and Smith making the all-rookie squad and Engstler showing flashes from the bench. Boston looks set to make an immediate impact upon joining the WNBA.
She was not briefed by either side on any squad decisions at her introductory press conference, but she said developing the squad’s youth was an attractive part of the job. “The sky’s the limit is kind of what keeps thinking in my head,” she said. She hopes the young talent will also attract veterans who can help serve as mentors. “It’s going to take an enormous amount of effort, energy and work to do what we need to do,” said general manager Lynn Dunn. Maxing out their talents in the frontcourt will go a long way in determining how quickly the Fever can rebuild.
Can Miller bring stability to Sparks?
For Los Angeles, the answer better be yes. Miller is moving to the West Coast after seven years in Connecticut, where he says he became the franchise’s longest-serving employee at the time of his departure. Although his Sun teams never won a title, they were routinely among the best teams in the league, regardless of which key players were active or inactive. At Los Angeles, Miller would not serve the dual general manager coaching position as he did with Connecticut. However, he developed a reputation with the Sun as a builder, making the playoffs in each of his last six seasons, the he has said The “big appeal” of Sparks’ job is the construction process. Los Angeles has had five head coaches over the past decade and is certainly hoping to create more continuity with its impressive off-season coaching acquisition.
What would it look different, if anything, with Eric Thibault at the helm?
Thibault, who has been with the Mystics for a decade, admitted in his first press conference that being the one controlling playing time would make things “a little different” between him and his veteran heartthrob. However, he said he is optimistic that the relationships he has built with players in recent years will help mitigate any issues. From an on-court perspective, Thibault said he wants Washington to play at a faster pace—they were last in the league, according to Basketball Reference—and improve in transition, but don’t expect drastic changes from a knockout team. Door competition tournament. Thibault said: “At the heart of everything we’ve done is our player development, and that will continue to be the core of what we do.
The beginning of a new era 🎬# together
– Washington Mystics (WashMystics) November 17, 2022
“Everyone who walks through that door here should feel like they have a chance to get better, whether it’s a rookie in their first training camp or a vet, someone who’s been with our team for 10 years.”
(Curt Miller top photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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