PG: Danielle Robinson/Sydney Colson/Brittany Hrynko
SG: Kayla McBride/Jia Perkins
SF: Alex Montgomery
PF: Sophia Young-Malcolm/Dearica Hamby
C: Jayne Appel/Danielle Adams/Kayla Alexander
Significant additions: Hamby and Montgomery.
Significant losses: Becky Hammon, Shenise Johnson, what’s left of Shameka Christon (and Astou Ndour isn’t coming this year either).
The rebuilding process continues in San Antonio, but without a lot of additions this season. Leader and face of the franchise Becky Hammon is now gone, spending her time coaching San Antonio’s men’s team rather than playing for the women’s. The Sophia Young-Malcolm that we saw last year was a shadow of her former self as she attempted to return from her serious knee injury. So it’s up to the youngsters to step up. Danielle Robinson and Kayla McBride are a dynamic young backcourt, Danielle Adams can still produce points inside and out, and there are high hopes for first-round draft pick Dearica Hamby. But with Hammon gone, Dan Hughes is going to have a job on his hands moulding this group into a challenger in the tough Western Conference.
Even without Hammon’s talents, the Stars are a fun and exciting team on the perimeter. Robinson is lightning quick and has developed into a reliable mid-range shooter, while McBride settled in as her rookie season progressed and can light it up from outside. Jia Perkins re-signed and will be her usual spark-plug self off the bench. They added Alex Montgomery to help fill the small forward spot in a trade with New York, and while she won’t excite anyone she can hit an open jumper and she has the length to fit in nicely on the defensive end. Robinson shouldn’t be forced to guard too many players at least six inches taller than her any more.
They’ll be hoping that Young-Malcolm improves now that she’s further removed from her knee injury, but the flashes of her old self were disappointingly rare last year. Their hopes there may lie more with rookie Hamby, if she can develop quickly into a worthy successor for Young-Malcolm or at least someone who can platoon with her at the 4. The interior has been an issue for San Antonio for a long time now, with Appel helping to improve their defense but offensively useless. Danielle Adams offers bursts of exciting offense and takes an occasional charge, but is undersized for the center spot she often plays and isn’t a great defender by any means. They improved to the level of at least being mediocre on the glass last year, but still struggled to defend the paint. Hughes will try to organise a cohesive team defense but he’s had limited success in recent years. Development from the long and lanky Kayla Alexander might help as an extra alternative at center, but it’s not something they can rely on.
With the savvy Hughes in charge, San Antonio usually find a way to win their fair share of games, and once again they should be a fun team to watch. They’ll be quick and aggressive, they’ll move the ball sharply, they’ll let fly from outside on a regular basis, and on a bunch of nights they’ll just try to keep firing and outscore the opponent in front of them. But unless Hamby has an immediate breakout, or McBride takes a huge second-year leap, it’s tough to see them as a real contender just yet. They could be in the playoff mix (virtually any team could be in the WNBA – two-thirds of this league makes the playoffs), but this year is more about growth and building. They’re still a year or two – and probably a player or two – away from where they want to be.