Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike (30) scored 19 points, 14 rebounds and five assists against the Chicago Sky on June 9, 2023 (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

As the WNBA returned from the All-Star Break, the Los Angeles Sparks plan to hunt for a Playoff spot. The return of key players from injury can help with the Sparks’ postseason hopes.

“We’re not happy with where we are right now in the standings and the win-loss record,” said Sparks general manager Karen Bryant. “But I think we’re giving ourselves a tremendous amount of grace in terms of how we handle the injuries in particular.”

Their 7-14 overall record puts them in ninth place in the league. Yet head coach Curt Miller pointed out how guard Karlie Samuelson is one of the league’s leaders on offense and how forward Nneka Ogwumike is putting up similar stats from her MVP season in 2016.

Sparks general manager Karen Bryant noted how Ogwumike is a “model player on and off the court.”

Related Stories

Black Star Lacrosse makes sports history Los Angeles

Rams Host Girls Flag Football Clinic at Serra High School

“[Ogwumike] is a really important part of what we’re doing,” Bryant said. “We did an analysis recently where we looked at the top 25 players in the history of the WNBA in their 12th season and she is number one in many categories.”

Shifting an ailing team to a postseason contender is something Miller has experience in. He did that with the Sparks when he was an assistant coach in 2015.

“We started 3-13,” Miller said. “By the end of the year, I would argue that Minnesota and L.A. were clearly the top two teams.”

Sparks chief administrative officer and general manager Karen Bryant (left) and head coach Curt Miller (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

As the Sparks battle through adversity, Miller makes sure to reassure the players of the pride he has for them as they compete. However, with the injuries, it has been a challenge for Miller to teach the players.

“We’d go in a lot of games with eight healthy players,” Miller said. “What’s really been challenging is the unintended consequence of practice and that now you’ve extended minutes with that core group of five, six, seven players.”

Guard Jordin Canada has proven her athletic and leadership skills throughout the season.

“She’s shooting it as well as she ever has. She’s really leading this team on the court,” Miller said. “But off the court, I think she’s finding her voice.”

The Sparks’ injury woes has allowed rookie Zia Cooke to get more playing time. Miller has urged her to challenge herself and have fun as she competes against the likes of All-Star players like Chelsea Gray and Diana Taurasi.

“[Cooke] is one of the only two players that played in every game,” Miller said. “Like most rookies, there’s been ups and downs for [Cooke] as she plays against the best players in the world, but an exciting young player that has an explosiveness offensively.”

The Sparks’ will host the Indiana Fever on July 25 at 7:00P.M.