It’s a new era in Los Angeles. The great Candace Parker has taken her talents to her hometown Chicago, while Chelsea Gray has signed with the Las Vegas Aces. As Nneka Ogwumike has remained with the franchise, there is still optimism that the Sparks can compete in the playoff race. What the team also added in free agency is sensational point guard Erica Wheeler, coming from Indiana.
Wheeler is another player who had to fight for her opportunity. Coming out of Rutgers University, Wheeler was a forgotten gem as she went undrafted in 2013. Since that point, Wheeler showed flashes of what she could be during her time in Atlanta, but the opportunity for her never went far. Indiana became the home for Wheeler in 2016. She found an opportunity to display her tire potential as a lethal scoring point guard.
First few seasons with Indiana
The Fever organization allowed Wheeler to show her true capabilities as a starting point guard. From 2016-2019, Wheeler took the keys as the starting point guard, gaining the trust from her teammates and the coaching staff. Wheeler showed tremendous confidence game in and game out. She took shots that many were scared to take. Her fearlessness on the court often lead the team throughout the season. Insiders speculated the recent play of Wheeler and added her in the radar as some of the leagues top point guards. But it was more than just her scoring on the Indiana Fever. Wheeler’s playmaking was one underrated part of her game and it continues to be overlooked.
As Wheeler’s value increased more in the 2019 season, so did her accolades and accomplishments. She not only won the All-Star Game MVP Award in Las Vegas, she was also handed the keys as the permanent franchise point guard. Wheeler started all 34 games on the season, being the dominant, fierce offensive weapon she has always been. Once Wheeler won All-Star Game MVP, the respect of her game became across the globe. Around the association, Wheeler’s emergence through the season was nothing new. She was slowly proving herself through the years and her opportunity finally came to her.
Now, in Los Angeles…
As Wheeler is now apart of the Los Angeles Sparks, she can be the moving piece that puts the team in the right direction. Believe it or not, the Sparks are still in a position to be a playoff threat despite losing Parker and Gray. Wheeler fits that role perfectly with her scoring and playmaking. If she can lead the way consistently, her performance will cause havoc for teams matching up against them.
Although this is just my personal prediction, I expect Erica Wheeler to average around 19-20 points per game. Why? Because she’ll have control of the game as she carries the ball past halfcourt. Derek Fisher should utilize her to the highest extent. Wheeler in a strong position to score the basketball is the huge part in Los Angeles’ season success. Also, her scoring ability on offense can create other opportunities for teammates to have quality looks. If things go correctly to begin the season, a win-win situation will be in place for both Wheeler and the Sparks.
Many insiders, including myself, believed Erica Wheeler would have continued to develop in the Fever organization. Despite the team’s 6-16 record last season, Wheeler’s availability in the “Wubble” would have been a chance that the team would’ve been more complete.
Now, Wheeler finds herself in a more veteran oriented team. With that being said, each player can put their experience to good use. The veteran presence will allow Los Angeles to be a legitimate threat as a playoff contender.