Three takeaways from the Sparks season after their first 11 games

The Sparks knocked off the defending champion, Las Vegas Aces 96-92 last Sunday before heading on the road for nearly a month. The Sparks are currently 4-8 and with a quarter of the season finished here are some takeaways from what I've seen so far.

Turnovers and bad point guard play has plagued the team

The Sparks have had their struggles so far this year and one of the key reasons is turnovers. Los Angeles averages the most turnovers in the WNBA with 16.6 per game. The Sparks have six games with 16 or more turnovers. The team turned the ball over 28 times against the Washington Mystics earlier this season.

When you look at the turnovers it points to the players who handle the ball most. They are the point guards. Coming into the season, Layshia Clarendon was awarded the starting point guard spot. She started the season with her first career triple-double against the Atlanta Dream, but she struggled the next few games before suffering a concussion that forced her to miss three games. Her return and solid play at that spot has helped the team who leaned heavy on shooting guard Lexie Brown to take the role. Brown didn't perform well in that role, and it took away from her scoring opportunities. In the last two games Los Angeles has relied on Aari McDonald. McDonald seems to be finding her role with the team and her more consistent minutes is leading to solid play making and scoring. Clarendon is more of a true floor general for the Sparks and McDonald brings more of a spark off the bench and up tempo to the team when she is in. That balance has worked out well the past couple games.

With the return of Clarendon and the solid play of McDonald the point guard position could now be a possible plus for this young Sparks team.

The rookies have shown highs and lows

The Sparks drafted two of the top players in the 2024 WNBA Draft with Cameron Brink and Rickea Jackson. Both rookies have had their positive moments throughout the season so far that have shown the Sparks organization their bright futures.

Brink, the second overall pick from Stanford, has shown her dominance on the defensive end for Los Angeles. Brink's is second in the league, averaging 2.8 blocks per game and is averaging one steal per game. She has also shown some offensive potential with a 20-point game against Dallas on May 26th and recorded her first career double-double on June 7, in another matchup against Dallas. Her issues continue to be foul trouble. This was an issue she had in college and it has carried over to the WNBA. She averages 4.5 fouls per game. She is very valuable to the team when she is on the court with her defense and versatility on offense but has to find a way to stay on the court.

Jackson, the fourth overall pick from the University of Tennessee has shown that she may actually be the best rookie on the team at this moment. Jackson is averaging 9.6 points and 3.6 rebounds. She started the season coming off the bench but now has found herself in the starting lineup. She is coming off of a game against the Aces where she finished with 16 points, five rebounds and one block. She scored seven of her 16 points in the fourth quarter to help knock of the defending champs. The former Lady Vol has scored in double figures in five of the first team's 11 games. She has had moments trying to figure things out because she is being asked to play so many different roles, but she seems to be finding her way.

Dearica Hamby is having the best start to a season of her career

Hamby has been the biggest bright spot for the Sparks this season. She is playing some of the best basketball of her career. Hamby is averaging 20.4 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.7 steals in the first 11 games. The former two-time Six Woman of the year has recorded a double-double in nine out of 11 games. She is top five in scoring and rebounding in the league.. Her improved footwork around the basket along with much improved outside shooting has put her at an elite level offensively. Coach Curt Miller has leaned on Hamby early and often with her playing 36.2 minutes per game.

Her offseason work is paying off and should lead to another All Star bid and possibly her first ever MVP votes of her career. Hamby's play and leadership has inspired her young teammates who only have positive things to say about her leadership on and off the court.

The Sparks will continue their road trip against the Minnesota Lynx on Friday, and the Atlanta Dream on Sunday at 12 p.m. They will visit the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday and the New York Liberty on Thursday, June 20. They will play the Liberty again in New York on Saturday, June 22 and they finish their road trip on Friday June 28 in Washington against the Mystics.


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