Los Angeles Sparks look optimistic in new chapter

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
The Los Angeles Sparks start their season against the Atlanta Dream on May 15.

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Sparks will start a new era.

The departure of Nneka Ogwumike closed a chapter. But the draft brought in two new potential superstars in Cameron Brink and Rickea Jackson. They also picked McKenzie Forbes in the third round. The Sparks have a lot of optimism going into this season. It is the start of the season but the vibes are good.

On Media Day, head coach Curt Miller talked about how talented their rookies are.

“(Brink) has the unique way of making people smile and making people lead with her already. She is an elite athlete for her size,” said second-year Sparks head coach Curt Miller. “Obviously, what we liked going into the draft was (Jackson’s) versatility to play multiple spots and find her opportunities to score.”

“McKenzie (Forbes) is beyond her years with basketball knowledge,” continued Miller, “What we liked is you haven’t been able to speed her up. She plays at a pace and a tempo that you can have success. She’s got basketball IQ and she sees a lot of what’s going on. And she’s so mature beyond her years.”

Miller did say to give them some grace but the coach seemed very excited of what they’re bringing to the table.

The Sparks finished 17-23 in the 2023 WNBA campaign. Is there a possibility that this team could be better than last season’s?

“I think we’re gonna shock a lot of people,” said returning forward Dearica Hamby.

“This group is way ahead compared to last season’s as far as picking up concepts and creating synergy on and off the court,” said guard Lexie Brown.

The Sparks had very good vibes and chemistry throughout last season and it seemed evident again for this Media Day. Staying healthy will be key, though, as injuries really ravaged them in 2023. Returning forward/center Azura Stevens mentioned that while injuries hit them, they were able to stay resilient. Layshia Clarendon referenced their last game of the season in Seattle about how much they really wanted to win the game, adding that it left Jewell Loyd mad when the Sparks beat them.

When asked about their individual goals, the Sparks rookies seem to already have put those aside. Both Brink and Jackson gave simple answers.

“For me, success would look like a winning season, going as far as we can go,” answered Brink.

“Winning comes with a lot of great things,” followed Jackson.

Still, Coach Curt Miller conceded that it’s almost like they’re starting over again after what they tried to build last year.

“I almost feel that this is in Year One now with the draft picks, couple of really outstanding trades in the offseason that brought new talent in the organization… but still, a little bit of mixture of people returning. I’m excited about it and looking forward to seeing if we can model what we did in Connecticut, bring it back here, and build this back to a championship level.”

So begins a new chapter. And the Sparks are hoping it will be a prosperous one.