PG: Skylar Diggins/Angel Goodrich
SG: Candice Wiggins/Riquna Williams
SF: Nicole Powell/Roneeka Hodges/Jennifer Lacy
PF: Glory Johnson/Tiffany Jackson-Jones/Kayla Pedersen
C: Elizabeth Cambage
Significant gains: Skylar Diggins, Elizabeth Cambage, Candice Wiggins, Tiffany Jackson-Jones, Nicole Powell.
Significant losses: Ivory Latta, Temeka Johnson (plus Amber Holt got cut).
Last year was a season of small but vital steps for the Tulsa Shock. They may have finished just 9-25, but that equalled their win total from the previous two years combined, and they pulled themselves off the bottom of the Western Conference (albeit assisted in that step by Phoenix’s capitulation). Nolan Richardson was long gone, and with Gary Kloppenburg taking over the team finally had some structure and a sense that they knew what they were doing. There were still bumps in the road, and the talent on the roster didn’t quite match up to most of the other teams, but they were finally headed in the right direction. After an offseason that’s produced a collection of new options, including a headlining rookie, their first meaningful free agent addition and a player they thought had quit on them yet again, they’re primed for another step. The question is how far are they ready to jump?
The Shock’s two leading scorers from last season – also their top two in assists – are both gone. And yet despite losing Ivory Latta and Temeka Johnson for nothing, Tulsa are probably happier about their backcourt situation than they’ve ever been before. Finishing third in the lottery meant disappointment at missing out on Brittney Griner, but it resulted in Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins, who may be just what they needed. She’s a high-profile young woman, revels in the spotlight, and she’ll do everything she can to make people take notice of this franchise. She’s also a pretty darn good point guard, who can score herself and run a team. She may need a little time – it’s rare for anyone to be handed the keys to a pro team as a rookie and be an immediate success – but she should get there. At the very least, she’ll make sure more people know the Shock exist. Alongside her will be Candice Wiggins, technically acquired in a trade from Minnesota (it was essentially a free agent addition, consummated via trade). It’s going to be interesting to see what Wiggins is still capable of. In her first two years as a pro she was a fearless driver, getting to the rim and the free throw line with regularity. Then she suffered a torn meniscus in her knee and a ruptured achilles in quick succession. When she returned she was a completely different player, barely driving at all, and firing the vast majority of her shots from behind the three-point arc. It’s hard to know for sure whether that was purely because Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve asked her to become an outside threat, or if Wiggins simply doesn’t have that driving capacity any more. If she can rediscover that aspect of her game and vary it up more, she becomes a major weapon; if she’s just the backup guard we saw the last two years in Minnesota, she’s far less dangerous.