Discover more from The Her Hoop Stats Newsletter
Dallas Wings Check-In: Crystal Dangerfield’s Increased Scoring Load
Crystal Dangerfield's seen a recent uptick in scoring. What does that mean for the Wings?
Thanks for reading the Her Hoop Stats Newsletter. If you like our work, be sure to check out our stats site, our podcast, and our social media accounts on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. You can also buy Her Hoop Stats gear, such as laptop stickers, mugs, and shirts!
Haven’t subscribed to the Her Hoop Stats Newsletter yet?
The story all season for the Dallas Wings has been its reliance—or overreliance, depending on your stance on the team’s usage—on its top four players. Arike Ogunbowale, Satou Sabally, Natasha Howard and Teaira McCowan all average at least 12.0 points per game, but no other Wings players average double-digit scoring.
That list of “other” Wings players includes Crystal Dangerfield, who is averaging 8.3 points per game in 27.7 minutes per contest. Dangerfield is one of just 10 players in the league to average 25 or more minutes per game while scoring under 10 points per game. In fact, among players to play close to the full season, no one averages more minutes while not hitting the 10 points per game mark. Courtney Williams just misses the cut by averaging exactly 10.0 points per game. Gabby Williams and Layshia Clarendon have averaged slightly more minutes per contest, but have been limited to 10 and 20 games, respectively.
The point is, Dangerfield’s in a small group of players that are on the floor as much as she is while not really being asked to shoulder much of the scoring load. Just 19.6% of the players who’ve averaged 25 or more minutes per game have scored under 10 points per contest.
But it looks like that could be changing.
Over the last seven games, Dangerfield has scored in double figures five times, and she had nine points in another contest. In the first 24 games of the season, she averaged 7.3 points per contest. Over the last seven, she’s averaged 11.4, which has bumped her overall scoring average up by a full point per game.
So, what’s changed? Well, part of it is just that Dangerfield’s shooting the ball more. Over the past seven contests, she’s averaged 10.6 field-goal attempts per game, shooting 45.9% on those looks. Over the first 24 games, she was at 7.3 per contest, shooting 41.7%. The Wings have been getting the ball in her hands more often, which has predictably led to her scoring more points.
Dallas has gone 4-3 over this span, but one of those losses came in a game against Minnesota where she scored just six points on 3-for-6 shooting. Take that game out, and the Wings are 4-2 this month in games where Dangerfield took at least 10 field-goal attempts.
That seems at least somewhat significant.
Let’s face it. One huge concern this season has been that if Ogunbowale is struggling to shoot, Dallas is in trouble. The Wings are just 1-11 when Ogunbowale shoots 35% or worse from the floor. The frontcourt is a major strength and the talent there means they can withstand a poor night from one of those players, but when Ogunbowale’s struggled, Dallas has struggled.
But if Dangerfield’s going to continue upping her scoring game, the math changes. The defense can’t focus in as intently on Ogunbowale if Dangerfield’s a threat to score as well, which theoretically opens up easier shots for the Wings star. The team becomes a lot more difficult to defend with Dangerfield taking double-digit shots and hitting them at a respectable clip.
Can this trend continue into the postseason? I think so. Dangerfield’s been more of a role player over the last few seasons, but back in 2020 when she won Rookie of the Year with the Lynx, she shot 47.1% on 12.5 attempts per game. That’s been awhile, but we have seen a higher-volume version of Dangerfield in the past, and she shot relatively close to what this higher-volume version we’re seeing now is shooting. There’s definitely some guesswork involved in projecting that, but Dangerfield also hasn’t really been asked to score much since 2020.
My one concern isn’t whether or not Dangerfield can keep shooting the ball relatively well on an increased volume to pull the defense away from other players, but it’s if some outside factor will keep her from doing that.
And that outside factor is Ogunbowale.
Because here’s the thing—we don’t really know what Playoff Arike looks like. She’s played just two playoff games in the W, and the one last year barely counts, as she was limited to just six minutes.
But in her final two seasons at Notre Dame, she upped her volume in the NCAA Tournament by around three extra field-goal attempts per game both years. If the WNBA playoff version of Ogunbowale ends up doing something similar, then those shots likely come at the expense of Dangerfield. That’s something that would hurt the team.
These past seven games have offered us another window into how the Wings can win games, which is to let their fifth option play a larger role. If the team can continue to run an offense at the end of the season and into the playoffs that keeps that trend up, Dallas’ playoff ceiling will be higher than it was before.