The Dallas Wings should aim to keep restricted free agent Allisha Gray, who was the third-best player on the team in 2020 after Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally.
During WNBA free agency in 2021, the Dallas Wings need to build around third-year player Arike Ogunbowale and second-year player Satou Sabally.
Ogunbowale was the No. 5 pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft and Sabally was picked No. 2 overall last year. Both were megastars in college and Ogunbowale elevated her play to All-WNBA First Team status in 2020 as the season’s scoring leader, while Sabally finished third in Rookie of the Year voting and has shown even more promise overseas.
However, each needs to improve efficiency from long range if Dallas is to have more success in 2021.
Ogunbowale shot 33.6 percent from beyond the arc last season and Sabally shot 19.7 percent. As a team, the Wings were 10th in the league in 3-point percentage (32.3) and 11th in overall field-goal percentage (41.5). The good news is that they weren’t as bad in scoring offense (seventh) and have elite scorers in addition to Ogunbowale and Sabally who are capable of knocking down shots at a higher percentage. By comparison, Sabally shot 41.1 percent from deep with 81 makes as a sophomore at Oregon and Ogunbowale shot 39.3 percent for her career at Notre Dame.
The Wings have just one free agent: Allisha Gray. Re-signing her should be a priority, and Dallas may consider making some trades to get it done. Even so, Dallas, under the leadership of new head coach Vickie Johnson, are going to rely on young talent once again.
By the numbers
Free agents (type) (average salary)
- Allisha Gray (restricted) ($65,779)
Total average salary of free agents: $65,779
Total team salary (not including above players): $1,052,809
Cap space: $286,191
All seven of the Wings’ unprotected players who are not free agents make under $70,000 because they are on rookie contracts. Dallas was the youngest team in the league in 2020 and could continue building up talent for the future with three first-round draft picks this year’s draft: No. 2, No. 5 and No. 7.
The jobs of fan favorites Megan Gustafson and Katie Lou Samuelson are not safe because they may be replaced by the 2021 draft picks. But Dallas will have plenty of money remaining to build its roster, regardless of who makes the team, because it would just be exchanging rookie contracts for rookie contracts. Thus, the Wings can re-sign Allisha Gray if they want to, and they should, because Gray brings a combination of experience and youthful energy.
She was third on the team in scoring last year with 13.1 points per game.
The Wings’ biggest contributions in 2020 came from their guards, plus Sabally, a small forward who experimented with playing at the 4-spot, and Kayla Thornton, a sharpshooting small forward. Dallas did not get significant contributions from a true big. And while post players Isabelle Harrison and Astou Ndour are guaranteed to return for Dallas, they need help.
The Wings likely won’t get a shot at drafting Texas junior forward/center Charli Collier, even if she declares for the draft — most mock drafts have her going at No. 1 to the New York Liberty. However, Awak Kuier from Finland and Natasha Mack of Oklahoma State are other options who could aid the Dallas frontcourt.
Meanwhile, stretch-forward Bella Alarie, the No. 5 draft pick in 2020, deserves more time to prove herself.