PG: Odyssey Sims/Brianna Kiesel
SG: Skylar Diggins/Riquna Williams
SF: Karima Christmas/Jordan Hooper
PF: Plenette Pierson/Tiffany Jackson-Jones/Vicki Baugh
C: Courtney Paris/Amanda Zahui B./Theresa Plaisance
Significant additions: Zahui B., Christmas, Pierson.
Significant losses: Glory Johnson, Roneeka Hodges, Jennifer Lacy
At one stage, this looked like a thoroughly positive offseason for the Tulsa Shock. They added two veteran campaigners who both know how to win and how to play hard-nosed defense in Karima Christmas and Plenette Pierson. They lucked into a much better player with the #2 draft pick than they expected, when both Jewell Loyd and Amanda Zahui B. unexpectedly declared. They had Skylar Diggins and Odyssey Sims returning as the most exciting young backcourt in the league, after a season spent working out how they fit together. Then they suddenly found themselves embroiled in yet another mess with one of their young post players. After all the time and energy they’ve wasted chasing after Elizabeth Cambage, this time it was Glory Johnson causing all the drama. First it was the arrest after her fight with then-fiancée Brittney Griner, which led to a seven-game suspension from the league. Then she couldn’t be bothered to show up for training camp on time (or even to call the team to let them know she’d be late). Over a week into camp she deigned to drive to Tulsa from halfway across the country – only to reveal that she’s pregnant the day before the regular season begins. A player who’d been a pleasant surprise for the Shock since they selected her 4th overall in 2012 now won’t play for them this season (maybe ever again), and it leaves a hole in a frontcourt that already had some issues. That wasn’t what they needed on the eve of a season where they’re hoping to finally make the leap into being a truly competitive team.
First the good news, which starts with the backcourt that has the potential to scare the hell out of opponents for years and years to come. Diggins improved dramatically in her second WNBA season, learning how to finish at the basket under pressure and playing a generally far more composed game. She could still improve significantly from outside, but the fact that there’s still so much room for growth only makes her scarier. Sims increasingly took over initiating the offense as last season progressed, taking some of the load off Diggins’s back, and she can be just as electric as a scorer. Very few teams have enough backcourt defenders to handle the pair of them. With Riquna Williams hopefully healthier this year to be the bench sparkplug behind them, and Jordan Hooper and Christmas both happy to fire away from outside when defenses forget about them, there’s plenty of scoring to come from Tulsa’s perimeter this year.