Skylar Diggins/Angel Goodrich
Odyssey Sims/Riquna Williams
Roneeka Hodges/Jordan Hooper
Glory Johnson/Tiffany Jackson-Jones/Jennifer Lacy/Theresa Plaisance
Courtney Paris/Vicki Baugh
Significant additions: Sims, Jackson-Jones is further removed from her pregnancy and hopefully won’t be quite so useless, new head coach Fred Williams
Significant losses: Elizabeth Cambage yet again, Candice Wiggins, Nicole Powell’s theoretical veteran presence
The rebuilding – or just ‘building’, if you don’t count the Detroit variant of the franchise – continues for yet another year in Tulsa. They’ll tell you they’re aiming for the playoffs, but it’s going to be hard work achieving that barring some serious collapses elsewhere in the West. Especially after yet another difficult offseason for the Shock. There’s a new head coach, lots of youth and hope for interior development, but there’s also the usual plethora of roster holes and limited talent. If Fred Williams drags this squad up to the realms of .500 and serious playoff contention, he’ll be at the head of the Coach of the Year race.
First the bad news – Elizabeth Cambage is gone again. The on-off Big Liz saga at least ended with something resembling a straight answer this year, but unfortunately that answer was ‘no’ to returning to the WNBA in 2014. They wouldn’t keep going through this if she wasn’t such an impressive potential talent. Size like that with the ability to finish – even if it comes with an immature personality – just doesn’t grow on trees.
Cambage’s absence leaves the Shock with a lot of questions in the paint. Glory Johnson is the one reliable option, a strong interior presence with a streak of nasty in her that only makes her more effective. She’s still developing as a player, adding some range and variety to her offense, but it’s a shame we won’t get to see her partnership with Cambage continue to evolve this season. She also sprained an ankle late in her Russian season and hasn’t played again since, but reportedly should be ready to start the season. Beyond her Tulsa have no idea what they might get from their posts. Tiffany Jackson-Jones had a pretty miserable half-season after returning from pregnancy last year, and is expected to miss at least the first six weeks of this season anyway after surgery on her shin. Courtney Paris is back again and will likely produce her usual combination of breakout games where she dominates the glass and finishes inside, before five games where she’s never heard from again. Her defense against WNBA-level competition is still a major issue. Jennifer Lacy’s a decent backup who’ll hit a few shots from time to time, but no more. And then they’re down to completely unproven options like Vicki Baugh and rookie Theresa Plaisance. It’s patchwork at best for the Shock down low – Swiss cheese might end up a more appropriate term.
The guards are where there’s at least some hope on offer. Social media maven Skylar Diggins spent the offseason making appearances on every red carpet available and in several magazines, but hopefully also working on her game. She had a difficult rookie season, struggling to finish in the paint or hit consistently from outside. Some nice stat-lines in preseason have some people excited, but everyone should know by now that preseason means exactly nothing. Skylar needs to take a big step forward this season to start paying off on her promise and earning some of her reputation. Candice Wiggins is gone, but Diggins has a new running mate in the backcourt in #2 overall pick Odyssey Sims from Baylor. A quick, dynamic guard who can score in bunches, the possibility of Sims being a true star on the pro level is perhaps Tulsa’s best chance for speedy development into a decent team. Even if she’s not a superstar, or at least not yet, Sims and Diggins should be able to help each other out in the backcourt, sharing the point guard duties and releasing some of the pressure from each other.