What happen to the Sparks in 2022
August 25, 2022
The Sparks season turned into a perfect storm or should we say a destructive tornado and kept getting worse every week. During media day in May the team looked like they were ready to contend for a championship. Everyone in the building was upbeat and they had talent.
After that general manager/coach, Derek Fisher made some questionable roster moves when he cut some promising young players. As the season went on injuries and strange coaching decisions lead to the firing of Fisher when they had a 5-7 record. He was replaced by assistant coach, Fred Williams and the Sparks ended the season with a 13-23 record and in 11th place in a 12 team WNBA league. Eight teams make the playoffs.
The situation continued to deteriorate after Fisher was fired. On July 28, their 6'8 All-Star center, Liz Cambage decided that she did not want to play for the Sparks anymore. The Sparks press release stated that she and the team agreed on a contract divorce. At the time of the divorce, she was averaging 13.0 points and 6.4 rebounds a game along with1.6 blocked shots. Those numbers were low for an All-Star player, but they were good enough to put the Sparks in the playoffs.
After Cambage quit the team the Sparks loss nine of their last 10 games and missed the playoffs for the second straight year. Last Sunday they lost their final game of the season 116-88 against the Dallas Wings. They were losing by 37 points at half-time.
Another problem the team encountered between the Fisher firing and the Cambage departure was replacing starting point guard Jordin Canada with aging veteran Kristi Toliver. Canada, the former Windward high school and UCLA star was the engine that made the Sparks go and replacing her with Toliver created a chemistry and tempo problem. When Toliver started playing for the Sparks, she played only 11 games and averaged 5.9 points per game along with 3.1 assists per game. She was always on the injured list.
Canada averaged 9.2 points per game and 5.5 assists. She constantly pushed the ball up the court, played tight defense and her presence was felt all over the court. Her shooting percentage was not good this year, but she made up for it with her hustle and determination.
On the bright side All-Star forward Nneka Ogwumkie had a great season. She averaged 18.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. She also played in 34 games out of 36 and had a 54.4 shooting percentage and she made 82.6 percent of her free throws. Guard Brittney Sykes also had a good season. She averages 12.7 points per game.
If the Sparks expect to rebound and get better next season, they will need to find a general manager that knows how to evaluate talent and they will need a coach that knows how to make game time decisions.