2016 WNBA Team Previews: San Antonio Stars

 

PG: Moriah Jefferson/Sydney Colson

SG: Kayla McBride/Frida Eldebrink/Jazmon Gwathmey

SF: Monique Currie/Alex Montgomery/Haley Peters

PF: Dearica Hamby/Astou Ndour

C: Jayne Appel-Marinelli/Kayla Alexander

They suspended Danielle Robinson for the full season, so she can’t return until 2017, even if she were physically capable.


Significant additions
: Jefferson was the #2 pick in the draft, Currie was a recent trade acquisition from Phoenix, and it’s nice to see young post Ndour back to give the WNBA another shot after a brief cameo at the end of the 2014 season.

Significant losses: Sophia Young-Malcolm retired, Danielle Robinson had surgery on a torn Achilles and is done for the year, Jia Perkins was traded away for the pick that became Gwathmey, and Danielle Adams was cut after arriving out of shape yet again. So outside of McBride, that’s basically the core of their team from last year. Although it was a pretty terrible team, so gutting it might not be the worst idea in the world.


Overview

If this team rises to the heights of mediocrity, it’ll be a surprise. They were terrible last year when an experienced and talented point guard was running the show, Young-Malcolm was still around the help out inside, and Perkins and Adams gave them some additional scoring punch. Now they’re just hoping for signs of progress. Jefferson was a star at UConn, and will have plenty of opportunity to learn the ropes of the pro game with Robinson out of the picture. Then they’re looking for other young pieces like Hamby and Ndour to show they can be significant parts of the future for the Stars, while veterans like Currie and Appel-Marinelli help teach and lead. The generous term is a ‘rebuilding year’

The backcourt could at least be pretty exciting. Jefferson’s lightning quick, knows how to run an offense, and showed strong defensive ability in college. She can also shoot from outside, one thing that Robinson’s never been able to provide from the same spot. McBride’s a serious threat from outside as well, and they’ll be hoping that she takes a step towards being a real star rather than just a good player. The scoring’s going to have to come from somewhere, and there’ll be plenty of shots available.

In the frontcourt, you wonder where the offensive punch is going to come from. Currie’s been a solid WNBA player for many years, but that’s about it. Hamby faded badly after a promising start to her rookie season last year, and needs to prove that she can actually battle with the big girls in the paint. Appel-Marinelli is yet to show any interest in being an offensive threat at the WNBA level, which has always been a problem for the Stars. Teams virtually ignore her on that end, and are very rarely punished. Ndour has a lot of natural talent, and she’s long and mobile, but she looked lightweight and unsure in her brief WNBA appearances a couple of years ago. They’ll be hoping to see more this time around.


Best Case Scenario

Progress. Growth. Signs of hope. No one’s really expecting this team to win too many games, except maybe a rare Stars fan out there suffering from wild optimism. But maybe Jefferson looks like a star, Hamby shows signs of being a solid WNBA starter, Ndour develops and enjoys herself enough to come back on a regular basis, so they know they have some blocks to build on. Meanwhile they lose enough games to end up drafting as high as possible in 2017.


Worst Case Scenario

Some people have fears about Jefferson’s transition to the pro game. She’s small, and light, so some expect her to be pushed around a little and struggle to finish at the rim. And as teams like the Philadelphia 76ers have illustrated in recent years, sometimes it’s hard to grow when you’re constantly being beaten down by the misery of losing. They have to try to stave that off.


Summary

If their win total makes it into double-digits, it’ll be something of a surprise and a pretty impressive success in Dan Hughes’s final season. If they’re reasonably entertaining to watch and a few of the kids look promising, that’ll go down as a victory.

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