Sparks trade Kalani Brown to the Atlanta Dream for Brittney Sykes and Marie Gülich
Los Angeles traded second-year center Kalani Brown to Atlanta in exchange for Brittney Sykes and Marie Gülich.
The ‘Baby Enforcer’ in Brown is on the move to Atlanta and will continue to grow into a viable center that she’s shown can be when the opportunity arises, playing behind Elizabeth Williams.
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On the flip side, the Sparks receive Sykes and Gülich. They fill in a wing spot with Sykes and add in a versatile frontcourt player with Gulich.
With the retirement of Alana Beard, there was an open slot for a needed wing player who was able to be a defensive presence and bring in some offense. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt assumed the position in the small forward slot last season and became the heart and soul of the Sparks’ defensive identity.
In the event that Ruffin-Pratt returns, she would not be alone in being a defensive anchor for the Sparks with Sykes on board.
Sykes is a player that puts hefty pressure on the defensive end, so her presence on the Sparks will help bolster that side of the floor. Despite having her worst shooting season in 2019 at 44.5%, Sykes will likely not have that same type of year in Los Angeles so expect to see a better showing from her in 2020.
For her career, Sykes averages 11.3 points with a 39.3 field goal percentage. In 2019, she posted a career-high 29 points on a 44 field goal percentage against the Phoenix Mercury.
Los Angeles had a defensive rating of 96 in the 2019 regular season, ranking third in the league. Sykes is able to lock down opponents defensively and for her career, she has averaged 3.3 defensive rebounds and 0.5 steals. Sykes is an energetic force defensively and offensively that the Sparks can use effectively in their schemes.
Los Angeles also brings in a center in Gülich who is a very versatile big to play behind the Ogwumikes and Candace Parker. This is Gülich’s third stop in her young career but being in a situation in Los Angeles could bode well for her to exceed.
In limited minutes, Gulich averaged 3.3 points and 2.7 minutes per game in 2019 but did what she could while playing behind Elizabeth Williams in Atlanta. The Sparks see Gulich as a nice frontcourt addition bringing more rim protection and rebounding.
Gulich averaged 2.7 rebounds in 2019 and two rebounds on her career. She is an active big that can work in the paint with Chiney Ogwumike off the bench. Gulich can provide a needed boost around the rim with second-chance opportunities offensively where the Sparks got outmatched within games.
Los Angeles had a team average of 34.2 rebounds on the season and ranked seventh in league rebounding. They need all the rebounding that they can get on both ends. Despite having 25.6 rebounds defensively, the Sparks lacked in offensive rebounds with 8.6 per game.
The new additions in Sykes and Gulich help out a Sparks team continues to move pieces around their core to make another title contention run. Both will help this team, who fell short in the semifinals after a strong regular season, improve for the better in the upcoming 2020 season.
Los Angeles hit some home runs on the first day of the free agency period with knocking off some of their needs with these players so it will be interesting to see what else is to come with them and the rest of the league.
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