The Summitt Slack Summit: Liz Cambage rumors, a hypothetical Storm-Sparks series, and more

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 27: Riquana Williams
ATLANTA, GA - MAY 27: Riquana Williams /

Every Monday (or Tuesday this week because of the holiday), The Summitt staff takes a few minutes to talk about the latest happenings from around the WNBA. Below, you’ll find the transcript of our discussion, which took place in our Slack room this morning.

Howard Megdal: Good morning, The Summitt!

So much to get to. Let’s start up top with the Dallas Wings Liz Cambage rumors. So far there’s more smoke than fire, but this also seems to me a potential addition on par with any possible upgrade any team made this offseason other than Elena Delle Donne. What do you guys think?

Mike Peden: The situation is ripe for a return

Howard: I mean, a center who can block shots, rebound, score at an elite level, and has the size to match up with anyone, even Sylvia Fowles and Brittney Griner? My goodness.

Mike: Although Cambage has been flaky in her short WNBA career. Having a confidant in Erin Phillips could help this time around though

And with no Courtney Paris, Dallas doesn’t have any true centers

Experienced ones, that is

Howard: Agreed. Okay, let’s get to the players already in the league. May is coming to an end and the Lynx are once again undefeated. Let me ask this, though: do we think Minnesota is doing enough to save bullets with its veterans, or do the Lynx need to make better use of team depth so everyone is fresh come playoff time?

Mike: Minnesota is in a friendly part of the schedule right now. The only play 7 games in June after playing 6 in May

July and August will be a test of their endurance. As far as depth, I don’t see them afraid to use it so far.

They’ve got a solid nine-player rotation, which was evident in their last couple of wins.

ST PAUL, MN – MAY 23: Maya Moore
ST PAUL, MN – MAY 23: Maya Moore /

Howard: The thing I wonder about with this Minnesota team: are they better than last year’s group? That’s a high bar, but it seems like it, especially given Rebekkah Brunson’s rebirth as a three-point shooter.

Brunson hasn’t lost effectiveness, either: as of right now, she is second in the WNBA among players averaging at least 20 MPG in net rating, behind only Sue Bird

Mike: You could make a legitimate argument right now. Brunson’s three-point shooting is an extension of the range she has developed in recent years. Whalen is also becoming a solid jump-shooter. And the scary part is Maya hasn’t turned it up yet.

And no one has been able to contain Sylvia Fowles in the paint. The Lynx keep feeding her and she keeps delivering. Four double-doubles in six games.

LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 19: Sydney Wiese
LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 19: Sydney Wiese /

Howard: Yes, it is hard to imagine this team losing six games all season.

Another team that has impressed early on is the Seattle Storm. They look like they might just be the second-best team in the league, though writing off LA because of two losses seems entirely premature. In a series between LA and Seattle, who do you think wins?

Mike: I’d still go with the Sparks because of their depth, but a Whitcomb vs Wiese battle from the perimeter would be highly entertaining

Blake DuDonis: Hello fellas, sorry I’m late to the party.

It depends on when the series is played, right?

Howard: Note that LA is eleventh so far in defensive rating. That can’t last, can it?

Blake: That Sparks loss to Atlanta was awful

Howard: True, Blake. Let’s call it neutral site.

Blake: No way that lasts, and no way Loyd keeps shooting 60% from three… But also no way Stewie keeps shooting sub 30% either

Howard: Yes on all counts, Blake

Blake: Series goes 7

Mike: There’s a saying in basketball that you need at least three “play makers” to contend in any sports league. Seattle has that in Stewie, Loyd and Bird. If Whitcomb can sustain what she accomplished during the Memorial Day weekend, that opens up even more things. I don’t expect her 3-pt FG percentage to hold up, but unlike other rookies, Whitcomb has a ton of professional experience.

Blake: Agree with you Mike

Howard: Yes, Whitcomb looks real to me. That shot release is so quick, and she can absolutely stick around in an Allie Quigley way in this league.

Mike: In the case of the Sparks, they had a few latecomers, so I expect those bumps to smooth out. Nneka hasn’t missed a beat either.

UNCASVILLE, CT – MAY 26: Connecticut Sun Guard / Forward Shekinna Stricklen (40) and Connecticut Sun Center Courtney Williams (10) discuss a play during the game as the Connecticut Sun host the Minnesota Lynx on May 26, 2017 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Minnesota defeated Connecticut 82-68.(Photo by Williams Paul/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
UNCASVILLE, CT – MAY 26: Connecticut Sun Guard / Forward Shekinna Stricklen (40) and Connecticut Sun Center Courtney Williams (10) discuss a play during the game as the Connecticut Sun host the Minnesota Lynx on May 26, 2017 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Minnesota defeated Connecticut 82-68.(Photo by Williams Paul/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Howard: I want to talk about the Connecticut Sun here, by the way, because I think they are way better than the record indicates. 1-4, but really rough early schedule, played Minnesota tough, and here’s a stat for you: Jonquel Jones is grabbing 26.9 percent of available rebounds. Sylvia Fowles, on an MVP pace, is second… at 20.8 percent! That’s how dominant Jones has been on the boards so far. (edited)

Mike: What a difference not playing Minnesota makes

Howard: Now the Sun are set to miss Alex Bentley due to Eurobasket, but Rachel Banham looks healthy and is stepping up

…said everyone this decade, Mike

Blake: Wow, that’s pretty nuts when you put it like that. And the list of players with 20-20 games is short, and good.

Howard: 13th player ever

Mike: But seeing her get a 20-20 game after a tough pair against the Lynx says a lot about her confidence.

Howard: When I talked to Curt Miller last week, he spoke a lot about playing Jones through mistakes

As compared to last year, when he’d sit her after she made them

Sure seems like he’s figured out how to build her up effectively

Blake: Bentley being gone could help them. She hasn’t been great this season. The Sun, I think, are the closest to getting out of the bottom of the league. One or two moves (and a few more breaks) and they are OK

Howard: I just think down the stretch, teams trying to match up with Jones/Morgan Tuck are going to run into all kinds of problems

Seemed like Bentley was figuring it out, though. It’s a shame, she needs volume to get into a rhythm. Hope this doesn’t derail her, I love watching her play.

Mike: So, does that open up a chance for Rachel Banham?

Howard: Miller said 2018 is the year on their minds, when they get Chiney Ogwumike back, and that frontline is going to be incredible with the Chiney/Jonquel/Morgan Tuck trio

I think so, Mike.

Blake: Me too

Howard: She’s also now their backup PG whenever Jasmine Thomas is out

Mike: Curt told me the same thing when Connecticut paid a visit to Minnesota

He has a long-term approach in rebuilding this team, but even with their 1-4 record, I’d say they’re making progress in Miller’s 2nd year.

Blake: Yeah, next year could be great for them, though Chiney missing two full seasons this early in her career worries me. Lower body injuries don’t usually get better over time

But yes, Miller has done a good job and they are on the right track

Howard: The hope is they are unrelated, and going for her is how effective she was returning from the first one. But it is an unwelcome wild card.

So Connecticut got its first victory by beating… Chicago. The Sky went small, and it didn’t work. They have, as a result, a roster with more bigs than opportunities. They seem to struggle with offensive movement and defensive adjustments. And Courtney Vandersloot is about to head back overseas for Euros. I wrote a column recently asking how worried Sky fans should be. Do we think that question has been answered yet? It is still obscenely early.

ROSEMONT, IL- MAY 28: Cappie Pondexter
ROSEMONT, IL- MAY 28: Cappie Pondexter /

Blake: I’ll tell you what, I’ve seen the Sky in person twice this season (saw them win and lose) and in both they seemed to lack a true identity

Maybe it’s the influx of new players and a new coach, but I just don’t know if they know who they are

Howard: The primary difference I see between the Stars and the Sky so far is the Stars look like Vickie Johnson is making an effort to fit scheme to personnel, and Amber Stocks looks like she is making an effort to fit personnel to scheme.

And that’s surprising, since Johnson didn’t pick her own players but Stocks did.

Blake: I think it’s fair to say that the 2017 draft for the Sky was a failure at this point

Maybe Coates comes in and changes my mind, but so far, woof

Mike: And that could make Chicago fans concerned

Howard: Even if Coates is a star, she’s a star at spot they are overloaded with players

And yes, we know definitively they got nothing out of the ninth pick

Mike: Pondexter has done her best to run the point, but the lack of a floor leader shows up big-time when Vandersloot isn’t available

Howard: I simply don’t understand any lineup where Jessica Breland is forced to play the three or Imani Boyette is forced to play the four. Okay, so draft night obviously didn’t go according to plan, now they need to find a way to move on, roster-wise.

Blake: Cosign on all of that

Mike: Agreed. Early on, it looked like their plethora of bigs could help them on the boards, but they need to swap at least one out for another distributor

SEATTLE, WA – MAY 14: Breanna Stewart
SEATTLE, WA – MAY 14: Breanna Stewart /

Howard: Yes, notice that Washington leads the league in rebounding percentage. So, right, maybe not better off without Elena Delle Donne. Who could have guessed? Okay, so game of the week this week has to be Saturday night, Minnesota at Seattle

What do we think we can learn from it?

I’ll start: I want to see what Breanna Stewart does in a big matchup against an elite defensive team that can match her size.

Blake: Yeah, I’m interested to see Stewart show up. This would be a great time. On a similar note, I’m looking forward to see Loyd and how she handles a team of Minnesota’s caliber defense

Howard: Wonder who guards her. Maya?


Mike: Seattle definitely has “more to prove” in this match-up than Minnesota

Howard: Agreed. And game I’m heading to tonight, New York-Los Angeles, somehow feels like the undercard. Which is crazy.

Mike: Although on Minnesota’s end, I wonder what happens if Whitcomb gets hot from three-point range. Their perimeter defense can destabilize in that scenario

Howard: I’d put it this way: if Cheryl Reeve, with ample warning, doesn’t figure out a way to shut down Whitcomb, it probably means no one can.

Final thoughts? Mine are that Phoenix is reaching its best-case scenario, with top defensive efficiency in the league, thanks to a healthy and motivated Brittney Griner.

Mike: And let’s not discount Atlanta’s 3-1 showing in the month of May

Blake: Seattle is realizing their true potential, Atlanta should be praised for getting it done without a superstar, and New York is flying under the radar with a 2-2 start, but they are doing some really nice things

Mike: Blake, on Atlanta’s point, the players who were in position to step up in McCoughtry’s absence have done just that. Clarendon and Williams especially.

Howard: And Tiffany Hayes! Yes to all of this. Thank you, Summitt Summit! Until next week.