With training camp officially underway, the Los Angeles Sparks have been feeling the energy as they prepare for a fully healthy season.
The Sparks has experienced so much turnover in personnel, especially during this last free agency period, but in this iteration of the team, the newcomers are embracing Sparks culture and bringing their best selves into the fold.
The team went into the offseason and the draft wanting to improve in multiple areas. In bringing in more bodies to help fill those gaps, Sparks head coach and general manager Derek Fisher said they are going to take things one day at a time while also holding themselves to a high standard.
”What I found in my experiences, the players kind of ended up defining how the pieces are going to come together,” Fisher said as he expressed that they have specific goals that they want to achieve and will have some tough decisions to make.
As of Wednesday, the majority of the team has reported to camp aside from some veterans who are still playing overseas or fulfilling other commitments. Even with those veterans out of the picture at the moment, the team has been holding steady in their first couple of days of camp.
As Fisher is establishing what is expected of the players this season, players are being receptive and ready to work. From the young players to the free-agent additions, they are showing up with the energy and drive to fit into Sparks culture.
“The energy that they’re bringing, is basically what we’re about, what our culture is about. That’s people that are coming here to work and coming here to just show what we have and show that we’re ready,” Nneka Ogwumike noted on her impressions of all of the new faces in camp.
For the Sparks’ 19th pick in this year’s draft, Olivia Nelson-Ododa has been absorbing the knowledge and tidbits that the veterans spreading to her and the other young players. Nelson-Ododa noted that learning under the veterans and taking heed to what she needs to improve on has been very helpful for her thus far.
“This is a huge opportunity to really soak in everything and just learn as much as I can,” Ododa said.
Health is Wealth for LA
Along with everything else, the Sparks wanted to make sure that their players came into this camp in shape and feeling 100 percent physically. Jasmine Walker missed her rookie season in 2021 due to an ACL injury and started the rehab process after surgery. Fisher said that she had been looking good throughout the offseason with her rehab and therapy.
Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike had been riddled with injuries last season that kept them out for a while. Both have come into this season at their physical bests after a productive offseason training and rehab-wise.
“My left knee feels like my right knee. That’s how I feel,” Nneka Ogwumike said.
Chiney Ogwumike expressed her excitement about feeling good physically heading into camp after really focusing on her body after a hectic few seasons. Even with the team being very cautious with her, there are a lot of great signs for the season.
“I’m feeling good knowing that I put the work in and now it’s just playing basketball,” Ogwumike said.
As the Sparks continue to evaluate and build a steady group, their goals and standards are at an all-time high this season. Between the new players and those who have been around for a while, some will have to be stellar to make the final roster and compete during the season for the betterment of the team.