LA Sparks: 4 training camp storylines to keep an eye on in 2023

Nneka Ogwumike. (Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Michelob ULTRA)
Nneka Ogwumike. (Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Michelob ULTRA) /
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New Sparks guard Jasmine Thomas. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The LA Sparks tip off their new era on Sunday, their first training camp under new coach Curt Miller. There are a few questions lingering for the new-look squad.

When the Sparks open training camp on Sunday, it marks the on-court beginning of the Curt Miller era in LA. Alongside new GM Karen Bryant, Miller is looking to return one of the WNBA’s marquee franchises to prominence after Derek Fisher’s failed stint.

Bryant set the tone in free agency, signing top free agent Azurá Stevens, trading for Dearica Hamby, and reuniting Miller with his long-time point guard Jasmine Thomas. The team also signed former Storm forward Stephanie Talbot, brought back Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike, and kept Lexie Brown in town.

Bryant and Miller followed up a busy free agency with a strong draft, snagging South Carolina guard Zia Cooke and Iowa forward Monika Czinano. The team also drafted Australian guard Shaneice Swain, who was considered one of the best draft-and-stash prospects available.

Now, they enter training camp with 17 on the roster, a few decisions to make, and a few questions to answer.

4. What will the Sparks’ point guard rotation look like?

When the Sparks traded for Jasmine Thomas, they got a proven floor general with a long history of success with Miller — and a torn ACL. Her opening night status is currently unknown, despite her work towards starting the season on the court.

The Sparks brought Layshia Clarendon, Jordin Canada, and Yang Liwei to camp. All three bring unique skills to the court, making this battle one of the most interesting of camp.

Clarendon is the veteran of the three and is a proven leader and winner. She most recently played a huge role in the Lynx’s turnaround season in 2021. Clarendon is the best floor general of the group, and is a smart scorer when needed. That said, it has been two years since she played in the WNBA, which could work against her.

Canada played for the team last year and thrived. She is the best athlete of the three and has championship experience from her time in Seattle. Canada is the worst spacing threat, though, which will be even more important this year for the team.

Liwei is a scoring-minded guard who can score in a variety of ways. She is the best shooter of the three, and is a good athlete. Liwei does not have WNBA experience, but has participated in multiple FIBA competitions.

Whichever player makes the final roster will have an important role to play this year. The final decision could also provide insight into what Miller wants to do on the court.