Many words can describe the Sparks season so far, but boring isn’t one of them. With Derek Fisher parting ways with the Sparks, Liz Camabge divorcing herself from the team, and players disgruntled about jersey number allocation and practice locations, it’s incredible that the Sparks are still well within reach of their goal of returning to the playoffs.
Yahoo Sources: Behind the scene events of the Liz Cambage, LA Sparks divorce that started off rocky from jump and ended as many anticipated: ‘Best of luck to you guys,’ she said before storming out the locker room. https://t.co/TiuKUS1pJ1
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 27, 2022
With 28 games played, the Sparks are 12-16 and currently sit in eighth, holding on to the final playoff spot by just one game. There will be plenty of time to break down the road ahead for the Sparks; for now, we want to give out our third-quarter awards for the team. We did this at the midseason mark and will do it after each quarter until the season is done. Again, this is just awards for the team, not the WNBA as a whole. Let’s start with the MVP award.
MVP: Nneka Ogwumike
This answer is a bit obvious. Through all the ups and downs of this season, one thing has remained true, N. Ogwumike is not only the MVP of this team; she is in the running for MVP of the league. She leads the team in games started, minutes played, and points. She averages 18.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, and two assists per game. It makes this a near career year for her and makes her the team’s only player worthy of calling the Sparks’ most valuable player.
Defensive Player of the Year: Brittney Sykes
Name a better individual defender on the Sparks than Brittney Sykes? You can’t. She has the constant responsibility of defending the league’s best guards and steps up to that challenge night in and night out. She is the engine of this Sparks defense which has dramatically improved under the guidance of interim head coach Fred Williams. It’s not just her highlight blocks. It’s her speed on the perimeter, her ability to deflect passes, steal, and hold her own on switches. Sure her aggressiveness can cause her to overhelp and give up the occasional layup, but that’s just a consequence of her high motor. Like a quarterback who gives up interceptions but throws a lot of touchdowns, you’d never ask them to change what they do.
Sixth Woman: Chennedy Carter
With so many injuries, it’s been difficult to establish a bench mob in Los Angeles. Three quarters into the season, Chennedy Carter is my sixth woman for the Sparks. Hollywood will need to be her best self if she is to help lead the Sparks back into playoff contention. She’s certainly capable of it. Against the Mercury, she was a spark plug, scoring 23 points in 20 minutes, shooting 80 percent from the field, and being plus-eight on the night. Very few players on this team are capable of that kind of offensive firepower, and with Lexie Brown currently out due to an ankle injury, Hollywood will have to continue being a shining star for this team during this final stretch of games.
Most Improved: Katie Lou Samuelson
Katie Lou Samuelson is having a career year. She’s gone from a WNBA journeyman to an every-game starter for the Sparks. She’s averaging 10.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, and two assists per game. She’s taking the most 3-point attempts on the team, averaging 4.8 per game and converting on a whopping 39 percent of them. No other Spark has taken the statistical leap Samuelson has, and no other player has had their role increase as much.
This category highlights the team leaders in points, rebounds, and assists. So, no analysis is being done here, just the numbers on who the leaders are.
Sparks scoring leader: Nneka Ogwumike, 18.5 PPG
Sparks rebounding leader: Nneka Ogwumike, 6.9 RPG
Sparks assists leader: Jordin Canada, 5.1 APG