3 Sparks on Thin Ice Entering the Regular Season

With the 2024 season starting Wednesday night for the Los Angeles Sparks, it's a good time to look at a few players on thin ice.
WNBL Grand Final - Game 3: Southside Flyers v Perth Lynx
WNBL Grand Final - Game 3: Southside Flyers v Perth Lynx / Kelly Defina/GettyImages
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After an offseason of significant change, the Los Angeles Sparks will open up the 2024 regular season on Wednesday night against the Atlanta Dream. The Sparks are entering Year 2 of the Curt Miller era after finishing the 2023 season with a 17-23 record.

Los Angeles will try to improve on last season’s success, but it won’t be easy as they don’t have Nneka Ogwumike and Jordin Canada. Ogwumike signed with the Seattle Storm in free agency, while the Sparks did a sign-and-trade with Canada, sending her to the Atlanta Dream.

It will be tough to replace both players, especially Ogwumike – one of the best players at her position and a multiple-time all-star. Nonetheless, the Sparks have a nice mix of rookies and vets, who will keep them competitive throughout the 2024 season.

A couple of the veterans on this year’s team will be looking to stake their claim with the Sparks or potentially play themselves into a bigger deal this offseason with another team. Below, we’ll highlight those players, including others who must have a good 2024 season to keep their spot in Miller’s rotation.

1. Aari McDonald

With the Sparks not having Julie Allemand this season due to personal reasons, the Sparks will be looking for McDonald and Zia Cooke to provide quality minutes off the bench. 

The former third-overall pick had an up-and-down preseason, which she can’t afford to have with this being her first season with the Sparks. In Los Angeles’ last preseason game against the Phoenix Mercury, McDonald had 11 points (4-6 FG, 3-5 3pt), three assists, and a rebound in 18 minutes off the bench.

It was a significant improvement from her performance in Sparks’ preseason opener against the Storm, where she only took two shots in five minutes off the bench. However, McDonald had six turnovers against the Mercury, which isn’t what you want to see if you are Miller and the rest of Sparks’ coaching staff.

Nonetheless, the Sparks saw something in the former first-round pick as they wanted her in the sign-and-trade for Canada. In her three seasons with the Atlanta Dream, McDonald posted 8.6 points in 21.5 minutes per game.

McDonald is scheduled to become a restricted free agent at the end of this season, but she can determine whether she stays in LA or goes elsewhere depending on her play.