After all the losing seasons since its relocation to Tulsa, will the Shock finally surprise observers this time?
2014 record: 12-22, 5th in the Western Conference
Additions: Amanda Zahui B., Brianna Kiesel, Jessica Kuster, Plenette Pierson, Karima Christmas
Losses: Roneeka Hodges, Jennifer Lacy
Since its relocation to Tulsa, the Shock haven’t impressed the league with losing season after losing season: 6-28, 3-31, 9-25, 11-23, 12-22.
Although in the process, the team have landed key tools via the draft, making the group better and better. The likes of Skylar Diggins, Glory Johnson, Odyssey Sims, Amanda Zahui B. — a core with more than enough talent to make the postseason — now hold the collective task of leading a pack to the next level.
Will 2015 finally be the season the Shock end their futility and become part of the playoffs conversation?
Power in the backcourt
You can argue that the duo of Skylar Diggins and Odyssey Sims may end up having the reputation as one of the best backcourts in the WNBA this season.
In 2014, both finished among the top-10 in scoring, three-point field goals made, and free throws made. The tandem’s combined win shares (5.8) last year trails only two other pairs of starting guards: Diana Taurasi/Penny Taylor (9.4) and Maya Moore/Lindsay Whalen (12.4).
Diggins (20.1 PPG) herself led the league in free throws made and attempted, and was a distant runner-up to Moore for the scoring title, showing her aggressiveness and ability to take over and get to the rim.
With Riquna Williams as the primary backup, the Shock have in their fold an ultra-competitive backcourt that may pose a great challenge to the rest of the league, and the team will most definitely draw strength from this asset.
Zahui B. needed during Johnson’s absence
No. 2 overall pick Amanda Zahui B. meanwhile is expected to contribute immediate impact with the absence of Glory Johnson for a handful of games. Her presence at the rim when it comes to rebounding, swatting away shots or just altering them will be vital at the start of the regular season.
If the Shock can keep themselves above .500 before Johnson returns, the season will definitely be heading towards the right direction.
Overall, it would be Tulsa’s defense which may spell the difference this year. From an offensive standpoint, the Shock were able to compete during the 2014 season, placing third in offensive rating only behind eventual champions Phoenix and Minnesota.
With a core of youngsters, the team also operated at a fourth-best pace, but underperformed when it comes to defense, allowing a league-worst 83.3 points/game or a whopping 108.9 points per 100 possessions.
In addition, Tulsa also allowed opponents to shoot 36.3 percent from three-point area, also the worst in the league.
More than the firepower that they have on offense, the Shock must do a better job on the defensive end in order to succeed this year.
With key players around the league missing the start of the season and a handful of injuries, 2015 presents itself as the best chance for the Shock to end the franchise’s playoffs drought.
They are capable of advancing to the next round, given the composition of the team, but they must perform at a high level on both ends collectively in order to reach expectations.
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