By: Anthony Miller
The Dallas Wings are off to one of their best starts in franchise history at 3-1, but it’s the performance of one of their players that is catching the attention of Dallas Wings fans.
It’s been as good of a start for a team that went through some transition with a new head coach after coming off two straight playoff appearances. The Wings have taken flight early this season, winning three of their first four games and holding a 2-0 record for the Commissioner’s Cup so far. None of their early season games have been easy, but they have taken care of business.
Dallas’ offense has already seen a major increase in their points per game compared to last season as they went from averaging 82.9 points per game in 2022 to 90.5 points per game this season so far. A big reason for that is the team is getting more production from their top scorers as they increased the pace of their offense. Five of the players on the Wings are pacing for career highs in average points per game.
There has been one particular player who has been on the team since 2020 who has taken a bigger step forward than any other player on the team.
The Rise of Satou Sabally
Before The 2023 Season
Satou Sabally was drafted second overall in the 2020 WNBA Draft by the Dallas Wings as another key piece to the future of the team alongside Arike Ogunbowale. She got off to a strong start to her rookie season averaging over 13 points per game and being named to the WNBA All-Rookie Team. While the team did not make the playoffs that season, they were trending in the right direction.
While Sabally’s numbers went down in 2021, she still found her way to the WNBA All-Star Team averaging 11.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game that season. Her performance was part of the season the Wings were able to get back into the playoffs for the first time since 2018. They would go on to lose in the first round of the playoffs to the Chicago Sky.
Last season saw Sabally have career lows in points per game (11.3) and rebounds per game (4.8). Despite that, she still was able to play a role in the team capturing their second straight playoff appearance. The result was once again a first-round exit in the playoffs for the Wings.
Momentum Building Through Four Games
There’s a lot that can be said about that change in play for Sabally who has come on strong as the number two option on this Wings team behind Ogunbowale. Through four games, Sabally is averaging 22.3 points, nine rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game. Not only that, but she has also shown off her shooting skills as she is hitting 49.2 percent of her field goals, 42.1 percent of her three-pointers, and 95.8 percent of her free throws. She is top on the Wings in score efficiency with 1.508.
Sabally’s play can be contributed to how much she has improved as a shooter. She has done a great job in picking her spots on the court to shoot which has led to her being more efficient on the floor. Two of the four games she has played ended with her producing a double-double (both results were wins for the team).
Her post presence has been huge this season as she and Natasha Howard have been the rebounders the team has been looking for since last season. They both combined for 17.3 rebounds per game for the Wings through four games. Having that kind of help inside the paint has led to better shots from the outside and forced defenses to respect their inside and outside games.
Continuous Success is Needed
The Dallas Wings might finally have the big three they have been looking for with Ogunbowale, Howard, and Sabally leading the way. Howard joining the team from New York Liberty has helped not only her performance but making other players around her better. Ogunbowale continues to be the consistent scorer the team needs her to be as she works on improving as a passer.
Sabally is on her way to having by far the best season of her career as she is about to shatter her points per game and increase her rebounds per game. Her shooting is getting better, and she is being aggressive on the boards. That kind of hustle and intensity will only make her play better and make her team play at a higher level.
Now the biggest thing for her is to be consistent and keep playing at a high level. Dallas looks like a team that is poised for its deepest playoff run since they moved from Tulsa. They will need their big three players to step up and continue their success. Seeing the growth of Sabally has been impressive and should lead to success for the team if she continues to shoot at a high level and attack the boards. The future of the Wings appears to be in prime position to reach new heights for 2023 thanks to Sabally’s performance so far.