Arike Ogunbowale powered Dallas to a win on Wednesday, with 14 of her 25 points coming in the fourth quarter. 

Despite trailing 75-73 with 3:16 to go, the Wings rattled off the next 14 points to beat the Chicago Sky 87-79. As a whole, the Wings shot 100% on eight shots in the final five minutes of the game. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Dallas Wings (@dallaswings)

"I don't know. I mean, I was dead, honestly," Ogunbowale said after Dallas's comeback win. "Maddy [Siegrist] came to me and said, 'The Lord renews your strength.' And the last five minutes, we went crazy."

Postgame, head coach Latricia Trammell applauded her team’s ability to handle the Sky’s pressure.

"We know basketball is a game of surges," Trammell said. "You just gotta weather the storm because we were gonna go on our runs as well."

While Chicago was unable to find an answer for Dallas’ fourth-quarter surge, Sky rookie Angel Reese had a solid professional debut. Her first WNBA bucket came in the third quarter, and she finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, joining the remaining four Sky starters in double-digit scoring.  

Of Reese's 12 points, seven came in the fourth quarter.

"She's [Angel Reese] a great player on and off the court," Ogunbowale said of the LSU alum's performance. "This is her first game. Obviously, she has a long career, this is a good start."

While rapper Latto was in the building for the Sky game, Kim Kardashian dropped by the Los Angeles Sparks game with daughter North to see the Sparks took on Atlanta. Rookies Cameron Brink and Rickea Jackson both made their WNBA debuts, while Layshia Clarendon had their first career triple-double.

Brink finished with 11 points, four assists, and two blocks, but got into foul trouble with five fouls in 20 minutes. 

Atlanta would have the last word, thanks to Rhyne Howard leaving behind some broken ankles in her 25-point performance.

The Caitlin Clark WNBA era has officially begun, with the star-studded rookie making her preseason debut with the Indiana Fever on Friday. 

Clark scored a team-leading 21 points — including five threes — and recorded a game-high 16 points at the half. But it was Arike Ogunbowale who got the last word for Dallas, knocking down a splashy buzzer-beating three-pointer in front of the sold-out crowd to deliver the Wings the 79-76 win.

"I think there's gonna be a lot to go back and look at and learn from, because a lot of it is kind of different from college," Clark said shortly after the Fever's loss. "Just from, you know, a technique standpoint or you know, scheme standpoint, and what we do is not always always going to be the same. So I think those are the biggest things, but I think overall, I just played really hard and that's always something to be proud of."

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Just Women’s Sports (@justwomenssports)

For Clark, the biggest transition challenges lie in WNBA's physicality and talent levels. 

"No matter who steps into the game, you can never really relax, because that’s how competitive the league is," she added.

Fever coach Christie Sides also commented on's Clark on-court adjustment in her postgame remarks. Noting that the team will have to take steps to protect their star as she navigates the W's upgraded athleticism, Sides shared that at one point in the game, Clark was "completely gassed" and called for a sub. 

"We have to do better, we can't let her get to that point," Sides said. "She just won't be able to last and the way people are guarding her — I mean, she's seeing a double team, she's seeing hard hedges, they're being real physical with her. That's how it's going to be for her. And so we've got to make sure we're doing what we can to protect her so she's able to go into fourth at the same level she is in the first."

Clark wasn't the only rookie making their pro debut in Dallas that night. Ohio State ace Jacy Sheldon racked up six points and one rebound in her 13 minutes on the court (plus an unfortunate viral moment), but the breakout performance of the night went to Jaelyn Brown, a Cal grad who went undrafted in 2020 and spent the last few years playing overseas. On Friday, she carried the Wings to the finish line with 21 points in 29 minutes on 7-of-15 shooting.

After the game, Brown attested that she's "ready to compete" in an atmosphere that she "belongs in."

"I just try and treat it as any other game," she continued. "The crowd was amazing, it’s a little different from overseas, a little bit, but it’s the same game. I just [came] out there with a calm composure and did what I can do."

The Las Vegas Aces and New York Liberty have dominated the headlines and conversations since last year’s playoffs. On the court, the Aces and Liberty have had similar success, earning the top two seeds in the 2023 postseason.

Six other squads, though, are ready to challenge the superteams, starting with four intriguing first-round matchups. Just Women’s Sports has insights and predictions for each three-game series.

(1) Las Vegas Aces vs. (8) Chicago Sky

Defending champion Las Vegas set a WNBA regular-season record with 34 wins in 40 games. And after ending the season on a four-game winning streak, the Aces are in prime position to start the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Sky made the postseason against all odds in a season that saw the departure of their head coach and general manager, James Wade, who left for an assistant coaching position in the NBA. Chicago needed a late-season push to edge out the Los Angeles Sparks for the final playoff spot, and they got it by winning four of their last five contests.

These two teams are in completely different places, and while the Sky should be proud of their resilience in even making the playoffs, this series should be dominated by the Aces.

The teams played three times in the regular season, with the Aces taking all three matchups, 93-80, 107-95 and 94-87. In each matchup, Las Vegas had a different leading scorer, with the team’s four stars – A’ja Wilson, Jackie Young, Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum – all hitting double-digits each time. Chicago will have to find a way to limit one or two of those scorers to have a chance against the potent Las Vegas offense.

Prediction: Las Vegas in 2

img
Chicago's Alanna Smith and Las Vegas' Jackie Young go after a loose ball. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(2) New York Liberty vs. (7) Washington Mystics

This series shows the importance of the fight for the No. 1 seed. Neither the Aces nor the Liberty wanted to play the Mystics.

Washington may be a No. 7 seed, but the team ranks much higher in terms of talent. Injuries throughout the season prevented the Mystics from ever getting on a roll, but when healthy, they boast Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud, Shakira Austin, Ariel Atkins and Brittney Sykes in the starting lineup.

Washington is certainly feeling good about itself after beating New York, 90-88, in the final game of the regular season. Yet while the Mystics can challenge the Liberty, New York is the better team and should win the series – though it may take three games to do so.

The Liberty also come into the playoffs on a high, despite the loss to Washington. They started the regular season with a ton of talent and ended it as a cohesive team that looks hard to stop in a playoff series.

Sabrina Ionescu has been particularly tough for the Mystics to stop, as she’s been New York’s leading scorer with 20-plus points in three of their four regular-season meetings. Washington needs to lean on a stellar defensive performance across the court, but particularly from Sykes and Cloud to defend New York’s guards. After that, it will be up to Austin and Delle Donne to slow down Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones. So a lot needs to go right for Washington. Ultimately, even healthy, it will be challenging for Washington to contend with New York’s talent across all five positions.

Prediction: New York in 3

(3) Connecticut Sun vs. (6) Minnesota Lynx

The Sun and the Lynx played four times this season, with Connecticut holding a 3-1 advantage, but the series featured several close games. Two of the Sun’s wins came by 10 points and 5 points.

Led by MVP candidate Alyssa Thomas and her 15.5 points, 9.9 rebounds and 7.9 assists per contest, Connecticut has been consistent all season. Slowing down Thomas is the first challenge the Lynx will have to tackle. She runs the court for the Sun, and no squad has had an answer for that. Meanwhile, DeWanna Bonner is having the best season of her career, averaging 17.4 points per game. Her length also provides a challenge for Minnesota’s defense.

Meanwhile, the Lynx are peaking at the right time. They started the season 0-6 but have turned their season around. Napheesa Collier has been a huge part of that success, averaging 21.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. She was huge in the most recent matchup, finishing with 30 points.

The Lynx have come a long way, particularly with the development of rookies Diamond Miller and Dorka Juhász, and they have the ability to make this series interesting. But ultimately, the one-two punch of Thomas and Bonner is too big of a challenge to overcome, and the Sun should take this series.

Prediction: Sun in 3

img
Connecticut's Alyssa Thomas goes up for a shot against Minnesota's Napheesa Collier. (David Berding/Getty Images)

(4) Dallas Wings vs. (5) Atlanta Dream

Dallas and Atlanta come into the playoffs as two similar squads — not in the way they play, but in their ability to beat anyone on a given night. Both these teams are bursting with talent, and when things go right, they go really, really right.

Yet while the Wings continue to mesh, the Dream struggled down the stretch. Still, if Atlanta puts everything together, it can compete with Dallas, though the Dream are 0-3 in the regular-season series.

To have a chance against the Wings in the playoffs, Rhyne Howard, Cheyenne Parker and Allisha Gray will all need to have big games, and Atlanta will likely need a lift from someone unexpected as well.

Dallas will lean on its big three – Satou Sabally, Arike Ogunbowale and Natasha Howard – to do most of the scoring. But the team’s inside presence is where the Wings can separate themselves. Both Teaira McCowan (6-7) and Kalani Brown (6-7) can do damage on both ends, and alongside the length of Awak Kuier (6-6), they make it difficult for opponents to attack the rim.

Prediction: Dallas in 2

The Dallas Wings’ loss Sunday to the Chicago Sky featured two ejections and a fight during a chippy WNBA weekend, one which has resulted in one suspension and seven fines for players.

Wings star Arike Ogunbowale, one of the players ejected Sunday, gave voice afterward to a question that has echoed across the league this season: What is going on with the referees?

Ogunbowale received her second ejection of the season for making unnecessary contact with an official with 52 seconds left in the game. The 26-year-old guard’s shoulder knocked against the referee’s shoulder, which led to the technical foul and ejection.

“[The referee] was looking for something. I just watched it back a million times,” Ogunbowale said after the game. “I don’t know what’s going on this year with the refs but that was the worst call I’ve ever seen in my life.”

While Ogunbowale avoided a suspension, she did receive a fine for her contact with the official and for her postgame comments. Sky forward Ruthy Hebard received a one-game suspension and a fine for leaving the bench area during an on-court altercation earlier in the game, and her teammate Courtney Williams received a fine for doing the same.

The WNBA also handed out punishments for an altercation during Sunday’s game between the Los Angeles Sparks and Washington Mystics. Los Angeles’ Layshia Clarendon and Washington’s Ariel Atkins, Brittney Sykes and Shakira Austin all received fines.

Mystics players Elena Delle Donne and Natasha Cloud both have expressed frustration with WNBA officiating this season. In May, Delle Donne criticized the referees for treating her “like a rookie with calls.” In July, Cloud had even harsher words for the referees.

“I don’t care what pipeline refs we have coming through. I don’t care,” she said. “We have to do our job every single night. You need to do yours. This is bull—t. This is f–king bull–t.”

In June, Atlanta Dream coach Tanisha Wright questioned the officiating in one of her team’s games, particularly a flagrant-one call on New York Liberty guard Stefanie Dolson that Wright believes warranted a flagrant-two and an ejection.

“We’re expected to play at a high level every single night… The officials need to be able to rise to that same occasion. They should be held to that same standard,” Wright said. “They’re going to fine me for this, but I’m challenging them to raise their standards… Officiating needs to get better, period.”

Also in June, Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd — after scoring a career-high 41 points — took time to call out officiating issues.

“Protect the players,” Loyd said. “It’s not just us. Every single team has said something about the refs. That tells you that something is going wrong in that department. You expect high-level players, we expect high-level refs. We’re not getting that every single night.”

The WNBA on Sunday announced the 10 players — four guards and six frontcourt players — who will start the 2023 All-Star Game.

For a second straight year, the Las Vegas Aces’ A’ja Wilson and the New York Liberty’s Breanna Stewart will serve as team captains after receiving the most fan votes of any All-Star starter.  Wilson received a grand total of 95,860 fan votes, while Stewart clocked in at 87,586.

In addition to Wilson and Stewart, the other frontcourt starters include Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Satou Sabally (Dallas Wings), Aliyah Boston (Indiana Fever) and Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks).

The four starting guards are Jackie Young (Las Vegas Aces), Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm), Arike Ogunbowale (Dallas Wings) and Chelsea Gray (Las Vegas Aces).

Boston, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2023 WNBA Draft, is the eighth rookie selected to start an All-Star Game but first since 2014. She is also the only first-time All-Star of the group, while Griner is the starter with the most All-Star appearances (9).

Wilson and Stewart will draft their teams during a special WNBA All-Star selection show on Saturday, July 8 (1 p.m. ET, ESPN). The WNBA All-Star Game will be played at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, July 15, with the game airing on ABC (5:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. ET).

How does WNBA All-Star voting work?

WNBA All-Star starters were determined by a combination of fan voting (50%), media voting (25%) and current player voting (25%).

Twelve reserves will be selected by the league’s head coaches, who each vote for three guards, five frontcourt players and four players at either position — though they are restricted from voting for their own players.

2023 WNBA All-Star Starters

See below for two tables that show the breakdown of All-Star voting by fans, media members, and current players for the top-10 athletes at each position. Starters are indicated with an asterisk (*).

Arike Ogunbowale did not let an ejection get her down in the Dallas Wings’ 85-73 win over the Atlanta Dream.

The game featured 10 technical fouls, including two on Ogunbowale. But as she exited the game with less than two minutes remaining and 21 points to her name, she took time to hype up the crowd. The 26-year-old guard raised her arms to elicit cheers before signing a fan’s autograph as she entered the tunnel.

“I definitely have never seen anything like it,” Dallas coach Latricia Trammell said of the 10 technical fouls, which was the most ever in a WNBA regular-season game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Five of the technicals were defensive 3-second calls, four of which were called against the Dream. One was a delay of game on Dallas, and the other four were all individual calls against the Wings. Trammell herself even picked up a technical.

“I’ve heard about 10 different things, but I’m not exactly sure,” Trammell said about her technical. “We’ll turn some clips in (to the league); that’s usually how we do it. (Wings president and CEO) Greg (Bibb) will get some clarity on certain parts of the game. We’ve just got to continue to keep our composure no matter what call is made and just continue to move forward.”

Despite her cheerful exit from the victory, Ogunbowale also commented on the deluge of technical calls.

“I don’t know how much I can even say,” she said. “I just feel like all around, from top to bottom, coaches, refs, I don’t know, everybody just needs to be able to control their emotions. Everybody’s going to be emotional in the game and I just feel like everybody needs to learn how to control their emotions.”

It may be the year of the superteams, but there is plenty of talent up and down the WNBA’s 12 teams as the league prepares to tip off its 27th season this weekend.

Still, it’s easy to see why New York and Las Vegas are the favorites to win the 2023 WNBA championship. The Aces and Liberty combine to have eight players on our list of the top 25 players in the league.

1. A’ja Wilson, F, Aces

The 2022 MVP led the Aces to their first-ever title last season, averaging 19.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.4 steals per contest. Wilson was an impact player on both ends of the floor, performing well in the most high-pressure situations. She had six double-doubles in 10 playoff games and played 40 or more minutes in three contests, including the championship-clinching win over Connecticut. With the Aces once again a favorite to win the WNBA title, Wilson will continue to be at the top of her game.

2. Breanna Stewart, F, Liberty

New team, same Breanna Stewart. The 6-4 forward brings scoring versatility to the court for New York, just like the 2018 MVP did for the Storm over her first six years in the league. Last season, Stewart averaged 21.8 points per game, tying her career-high and leading the WNBA as a whole. She also contributed 7.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.6 steals and 0.9 blocks per game. With more weapons around her in New York, Stewart likely won’t put up numbers as big, but her talent and impact won’t change.

3. Jonquel Jones, F, Liberty

Like Stewart, Jones will be adjusting to a new team and a new role. But with other elite scorers around her, Jones will have more freedom as defenses won’t be able to center their game plans around the 2021 MVP. The 6-6 forward averaged 14.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.1 steals per contest with the Sun last season. Her ability to stretch the floor and shoot 3-pointers on offense is a major strength that opens up lanes for Jones and her teammates.

4. Elena Delle Donne, F, Mystics

After multiple back surgeries caused Delle Donne to miss games at the start of the 2022 season, the Mystics star ended up having a solid campaign. Her 17.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game were some of her lowest totals over her nine-year WNBA career but impressive nonetheless. Now fully healthy, the 6-5 forward is poised to regain at least some of the form that vaulted her to WNBA MVP in 2015 and 2019. One highlight from last season was Delle Donne’s 2.3 assists per contest, the best mark of her career thus far.

5. Chelsea Gray, G, Aces

After winning the 2022 Finals MVP award, Gray solidified herself as the best point guard in the league. She averaged 21.7 points and seven assists per game during the playoffs, up from 13.7 and 6.1 in those same categories during the regular season. Gray proved herself invaluable during the title run, and the Aces wouldn’t have claimed the trophy without her. The guard was virtually unstoppable when she wanted to score, making 63.5% of her contested shot attempts.

img
Nneka Ogwumike (Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

6. Nneka Ogwumike, F, Sparks

The Sparks had a chaotic season in 2022, but there was one bright spot: Nneka Ogwumike. The 6-2 forward put up her best numbers since 2017, averaging 18.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, two assists and 1.7 steals per game. Ogwumike helped keep the Sparks in playoff contention late into the season despite all the drama that surrounded her team. Her standout season is part of the reason new coach Curt Miller made it a priority to re-sign Ogwumike, and the 2016 MVP will be a cornerstone of the new-look Sparks this season.

7. Jewell Loyd, G, Storm

Loyd has played eight years in the WNBA and accomplished a rare feat of improving every season. Now, without Stewart and Sue Bird leading the Storm, Loyd will be thrust further into the spotlight, and the 29-year-old guard is ready. Loyd is one of the best shot-creators in the league, using her speed and athleticism to score off the bounce. During the 2022 playoffs, she proved she’s ready to be the team’s primary scorer, with 26 points in Seattle’s lone win over the Aces in the semifinals.

8. Kelsey Plum, G, Aces

After five seasons in the WNBA, Plum hit her stride last season, becoming a key piece to the Aces’ championship run while averaging the second-most points in the league with 20.2 per game. The guard also proved herself as more than a scorer, averaging a career-high 5.1 assists per game. As the Aces battle for another title, Plum will continue to be a cornerstone of the team’s offense.

9. Candace Parker, F, Aces

Parker, a 15-year WNBA veteran, has said retirement is coming soon. But when she plays, the 6-4 forward doesn’t look anywhere near ready to hang it up. Parker has always been a player who impacts every aspect of the game, and that won’t change in her first year in Las Vegas. After leading the Sky to a championship in 2021, the second of her career, she put up 13.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists, one block and one steal per game last season.

img
Sabrina Ionescu (David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images)

10. Sabrina Ionescu, G, Liberty

New York locked down their former No. 1 draft pick with a contract extension through the 2025 season this week, and it’s easy to see why the franchise wants her around. In college, Ionescu earned the title of “Triple-Double Queen,” something she showed glimpses of last season in the WNBA. Her best performance came last July, when Ionescu had 31 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists against Las Vegas to record the WNBA’s first 30-point triple-double. After trading for Jonquel Jones and signing Breanna Stewart and Courtney Vandersloot, the Liberty will be atop the WNBA this season; and if they win a title, Ionescu will be a key piece to the puzzle.

11. Napheesa Collier, F, Lynx

The new mom missed last season on maternity leave after giving birth to daughter Mila. Collier is back for the 2023 campaign, ready to build on the 2020 and 2021 seasons in which she averaged 16 points per game. Collier is also a skilled rebounder and passer, averaging a career-high nine rebounds and 3.3 assists in 2020. The 2019 Rookie of the Year moves well with and without the ball. She has a proven ability to get to the rim and finish with strength, or pull up for a mid-range shot.

12. Kahleah Copper, G, Sky

After losing Candace Parker and Courtney Vandersloot to free agency, Copper is now the leader of the Chicago Sky. The 2021 Finals MVP is more than capable of taking on a primary scoring role after averaging a career-high 15.7 points per game last season. Copper is efficient around the rim, where her body control makes her difficult to stop. The 6-1 guard has also become more well-rounded as her career has progressed, averaging 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game in 2022, both career highs.

13. Alyssa Thomas, F, Sun

Thomas is a do-it-all player for the Sun, and they will need her even more this season after trading Jonquel Jones to the Liberty. Thomas kept Connecticut alive against the Aces in the 2022 Finals with two triple-doubles in a row, marking the first and the second triple-doubles in WNBA Finals history. Thomas averaged 13.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.7 steals per game in 2022.

14. Courtney Vandersloot, G, Liberty

In 12 seasons in the WNBA, Vandersloot has solidified herself as the league’s top pass-first point guard. Last season, she averaged 6.5 assists per game, which was actually her lowest mark since 2016. Vandersloot’s ability to run an offense and set up teammates will be on full display this year alongside elite scorers in Jonquel Jones and Breanna Stewart and rising star Sabrina Ionescu.

img
Arike Ogunbowale (Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images)

15. Arike Ogunbowale, G, Wings

Ogunbowale was fourth in the league last season with 19.7 points per game. The Wings guard hunts her shot at every opportunity. She can score off the bounce or the catch and has a killer step-back that is difficult to guard. Ogunbowale also averaged a career-best 3.6 assists per game in 2022. With new additions to the Wings’ offense, the guard will be relied on to score and set up her teammates this season.

16. Rhyne Howard, G, Dream

The No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft made noise in her first season, earning an All-Star nod and proving herself as the future of the Atlanta Dream organization. This year, Howard will build on her Rookie of the Year numbers of 16.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game.

17. Ariel Atkins, G, Mystics

A key piece to the Washington Mystics attack, Atkins averaged 14.6 points and 2.3 assists last season, but it’s her ability to impact both ends of the floor that earns her a spot on this list. After receiving All-WNBA Second Team honors four years in a row, Atkins was named to the First Team last season.

18. Skylar Diggins-Smith, G, Mercury

Diggins-Smith will miss part of the season on maternity leave, but after the season she had in 2022, she’s earned a spot on this list, full season or not. Diggins-Smith was third in the WNBA in scoring last season with 19.7 points per game, her best mark since 2014. Diggins-Smith also averaged 5.5 assists, four rebounds, 1.5 steals and — despite being 5-9 — one block per contest.

img
DeWanna Bonner (Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

19. DeWanna Bonner, F, Sun

Bonner has been consistent throughout her 13-year career in the WNBA. Since 2015, she’s never averaged fewer than 13 points per game. Bonner was a key piece to the Sun’s WNBA Finals run last season, and her length and athleticism at 6-4 make her a threat on offense and defense.

20. Allisha Gray, G, Dream

After six solid years with the Wings, Gray embarks on a new journey with the Dream. The guard put up some of her best numbers last season, averaging 13.3 points and 2.5 assists per game. Gray is also an excellent defender who will bring experience and poise to a young Dream squad.

21. Brittney Griner, C, Mercury

Griner says it will take her a bit to get comfortable on a basketball court again after missing last season while being wrongfully imprisoned in Russia. But once she gets reacclimated, the 32-year-old should emerge as one of the top WNBA players once more. In 2021, Griner averaged a near double-double with 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.

22. Brionna Jones, F, Sun

The Sun made keeping Jones a priority in the offseason, clearly viewing her as the future of the franchise in the wake of other departures. She was named Sixth Player of the Year in 2022 after putting up 14.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Now, without Jonquel Jones, Brionna Jones will be expected to step up even more for the Sun.

23. Natasha Howard, F, Wings

Behind Ionescu, Howard was the Liberty’s second-leading scorer last season. New York dealt her to the Wings to make room for players like Jonquel Jones and Breanna Stewart, but that’s not a knock on her talent. Howard hit her stride in Seattle in 2018 and has been a consistent scorer and defender since then, winning WNBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2019.

24. Kelsey Mitchell, G, Fever

Since being drafted in 2018, Mitchell has been a bright spot during losing seasons for the Fever. Last year was her best yet, as the 27-year-old guard averaged 18.4 points and 4.2 assists per game.

25. Diana Taurasi, G, Mercury

At 40 years old, Taurasi is still one of the best scorers in the WNBA, and she proved that last season with multiple games of 30 or more points. She’s had staying power for a reason, and the veteran will continue to make an impact in Phoenix this season.

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.

Arike Ogunbowale didn’t watch the 2023 WNBA Draft. She was doing what she does every Monday night — playing pick-up basketball. But her cell phone was close by, and she kept checking it for updates.

Ogunbowale liked what she saw. Dallas not only grabbed NCAA leading scorer Maddy Siegrist at No. 3 overall, but continued to accumulate top-tier shooters as the rest of the draft unfolded, making four selections in the first round and and six overall.

“I thought we did really good,” she says. “It’s pretty much what I envisioned them to be drafting. I was happy with it.”

Since she entered the WNBA as the Dallas Wings’ fifth overall pick in the 2019 draft, Ogunbowale has become the backbone of the franchise, and Dallas has been intent on building the team around her. But while Ogunbowale has racked up many individual accolades over the past four seasons, including WNBA scoring champion in 2020 and All-Star MVP in 2021, the Wings have struggled to achieve consistent roster balance and find success in the postseason. They were bounced from the playoffs in a single-elimination first-round game in 2021 and, after finishing the regular season with a .500 record, lost 2-1 in a first-round series against the Connecticut Sun last season.

At this point in her four-year career, Ogunbowale wants more for her team and for the city of Dallas, which has not had a winning season since 2015 or a playoff series win since 2009. Ogunbowale wants to experience a full postseason run.

“My first year (in the playoffs), that’s when it was still the one and done. Last year’s was two out of three. Sadly, I wasn’t able to play in that because I was injured,” says Ogunbowale, 26. “I’m just excited to actually play a playoff series at that and get a chance to go. But the goal for sure is more than the first round this year.”

img
Ogunbowale is a two-time WNBA All-Star in her four seasons with Dallas. (Tim Heitman/NBAE via Getty Images)

It’s not as if Wings president and CEO Greg Bibb hasn’t tried to round out the roster with additional talent and find the best combination of players, particularly through the draft, to try to achieve that same goal.

In 2020, Dallas plucked Satou Sabally (Oregon) with the second overall pick, Bella Alaire (Princeton) with the fifth, Tyasha Harris (South Carolina) with the seventh and Luisa Geiselsöder (Germany) in Round 2. In 2021, the Wings used their first and second picks to grab bigs Charli Collier (Texas) and Awak Kuier (Finland), then added Chelsea Dungee (Arkansas) and Dana Evans (Louisville). The 2022 draft yielded Veronica Burton (Northwestern) and Jazz Bond (North Florida).

Still, out of all of the players drafted in the past four years, only five remain in Dallas — Burton, Collier, Kuier, Sabally and Ogunbowale.

“We’ve been on a multi-year journey in terms of building our roster,” Bibb says. “And I believe we were at a spot by the end of last season where we were very much on the way to where we want to be, but there were several roster-related shortcomings or deficiencies that we wanted to address — first in free agency and then in the draft.”

During the WNBA’s frenetic February free agency period, Dallas picked up Diamond DeShields, Natasha Howard and Crystal Dangerfield through trades. And this year’s draft produced another haul of riches. The Wings cast a wide net, selecting Siegrist (Villanova), Lou Lopez Sénéchal (UConn) and Abby Meyers (Princeton) in the first round, then added Ashley Joens (Iowa State) and Paige Robinson (Illinois State) with their subsequent picks. Dallas also traded future draft picks for the rights to Stephanie Soares (Iowa State), who was originally selected fourth overall by the Washington Mystics.

With six draftees and no trades to garner any future picks for themselves, the Wings appeared to be scooping up as much talent as they could to throw out on the court in training camp this week and see what sticks. It’s seemingly the same script they followed for the past few seasons under former head coaches Brian Agler (2019-20) and Vickie Johnson (2021-22).

Bibb insists that isn’t the case.

“A lot of people ask us about our draft class. It’s kind of become this thing, this narrative that Dallas always drafts a ton of players and always has too many players and not enough spots,” he said in the Wings’ introductory team press conference in April. “I’m not sure where the narrative that Dallas does this over-drafting or draft-and-stash [comes from]. It’s just not what we do.”

img
Ogunbowale and new signing Natasha Howard participate in the first day of training camp Sunday. (Dallas Wings)

After losing their second- and third-leading scorers Marina Mabrey and Allisha Gray in offseason trades, Bibb says he targeted what Dallas needed the most through the draft — shooters. But he also added size for position, focusing on players who have the ability to excel in multiple positions and use their individual skills in a variety of ways on the court.

Siegrist fits that mold perfectly. As the all-time leading scorer in the Big East and the leading scorer in the nation this past season at 29.2 points per game, she has the ability to get buckets at all three levels. More importantly, depending on how many minutes new coach Latricia Trammell grants her, Siegrist can go in and compete right away.

“I love a scorer. You know I’m a scorer, so I love that (Maddy) can score in a lot of different ways and do it easily,” says Ogunbowale. “I think adding her is really good. She has good size, so she’ll help us with that department. But I think she’ll stretch the floor for sure, she can knock it down. I’m really excited about her.”

Soares is still recovering from a torn ACL she suffered in January and is being billed as a future investment, with the hope that she’ll be ready to go next season. Lopez Sénéchal played with a lingering knee injury for the second half of UConn’s season, and it remains to be seen how it will affect her play. But she, along with Meyers, Joens and Robinson, will be front and center of what is expected to be a highly competitive Wings training camp.

img
Dallas traded for Iowa State center and No. 4 pick Stephanie Soares on draft night. (Evan Yu/Just Women's Sports)

Seeing all of the picks taken before and after her, Meyers knows there’s no time to revel in the dream of getting drafted. The reality of the situation is clear to the former Ivy League Player of the Year — every draftee is competing for a spot alongside established young talent and valuable veterans.

“I think for me, I gotta do really well at the intangibles. I have to do really well at the small things,” Meyers says. “So I have to shoot well, I have to move off the ball well, I have to communicate well. I gotta do everything that makes a great all-around player.”

Since arriving in Dallas, Meyers has been hitting the gym and training with the other rookies, having fun and soaking up as much knowledge as she can. She’s also spoken with some of the vets, including DeShields, who told her to drop the rookie mindset and remember that, at the end of the day, they’re all pros.

“I know what I need to show and work on,” Meyers says. “But yeah, it’s gonna come down to the little things I think. It’s gonna come down to consistency, come down to meeting expectations of not only myself as a player, but also the expectations of what the coaches are looking for in a player for the team.”

Dallas currently has 18 players on its roster and only 12 open slots. As has become the norm, getting drafted in the second and third rounds is often more of an open invitation than a guarantee. But Trammell has said she’s going to treat every player that steps on the court as if they’re going to be with the team all season.

“It’s probably the most competitive that it’s been, honestly even since before I was here,” Ogunbowale says. “There’s so many good players — the players we have now and the players added, we got a lot of players in free agency. I think it’s gonna be super, super competitive. I’m excited to watch people compete, I’m excited to obviously compete against them. Hopefully my spot is locked down.”

As camp begins and the WNBA season fast approaches, the Wings’ new coaching staff has their work cut out for them. With the roster cutdown deadline set for May 18 and their season opener against the Atlanta Dream on May 20, the Wings have just over two weeks to finalize the roster and figure out rotations, player combinations and positions with the hope of contending in a newly top-heavy league.

The question remains: Will this be the year it all comes together?

Ogunbowale is optimistic.

“I think this is gonna be our best year yet. I feel like with the new coaching staff, they’re excited and seem super knowledgeable in the sport and just want to see us be great. They seem like they’re putting everything together to give us the tools to be great,” she says.

“I think we have players now that are super skilled, that have won championships. Just adding those other pieces and the pieces that we have, I think it’s gonna be a really good season for us.”

Lyndsey D’Arcangelo is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports, covering the WNBA. She also contributes to The Athletic and is the co-author of Hail Mary: The Rise and Fall of the National Women’s Football League. Follow Lyndsey on Twitter @darcangel21.

Dallas Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale will remain out through at least the first round of the playoffs after undergoing a procedure to repair a pelvic injury, the team announced Tuesday.

Ogunbowale scored 12 points in 25 minutes in Saturday’s overtime win against the Indiana Fever but exited with an injury. She missed Monday’s win against the New York Liberty, which secured a playoff spot for the Wings.

“Hurts my heart that I can’t be out there with the team,” Ogunbowale tweeted in the wake of the news.

The fourth-year player out of Notre Dame underwent an iliac crest core muscle avulsion repair Tuesday and will miss Dallas’ final three games of the regular season as well as the team’s first-round playoff series.

Marina Mabrey stepped up with 31 points in the Wings’ victory Monday. They’ll need to lean on her in Ogunbowale’s continued absence, starting Wednesday with another game against the Liberty. Ogunbowale has played 30 games for Dallas so far this season, averaging 19.7 points and 31.4 minutes per game.

The Wings (17-16) currently sit in sixth place in the WNBA standings, which would put them in line to face the third-place Connecticut Sun (22-11) in a three-game first-round series if the season ended Tuesday. The playoffs are scheduled to begin on Aug. 17.

Arike Ogunbowale was ejected at halftime of the Dallas Wings’ Sunday loss to the Seattle Storm after seemingly kicking a ball into the stands. But the star guard said she was trying to control the ball with her foot in a throwback to her soccer-playing days.

The Storm missed a half-court shot at the halftime buzzer, and the ball fell toward Ogunbowale. She hit the ball with her foot while players walked off the court.

Ogunbowale addressed the ejection in a series of Twitter posts after the game Sunday, saying she was trying to control the basketball like a soccer ball.

“If you know me you know I was a soccer player first. Literally every practice and game I stop the basketball with my feet, pass it to my teammates with my feet etc. Ball comes at me fast I always stop the ball with my feet it’s just my first instinct,” wrote Ogunboawle, attaching a video of her juggling and flicking a basketball with her feet during her time at Notre Dame.

“To be ejected for something like this is wild,” Ogunbowale wrote. “From here on out I’ll try to remember WNBA refs aren’t fans of soccer players.”

The incident comes after Ogunbowale kicked the scorer’s table during her team’s loss to Los Angeles on May 31 after missing a free throw.

“That incident happened in L.A. as well,” Dallas coach Vickie Johnson said after Sunday’s game. “We’re not on the soccer field, we’re on the basketball court and you have to respect the game, period. We play basketball with our hands.”

Johnson told reporters that she would need to speak to Wings president Greg Bibb regarding team discipline for Ogunbowale.

“We have talked about it, but that’s something Greg and I have to discuss a little bit more,” she said. “When it affects the team, it affects all of us.”