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Fever to face Wings buoyed by impressive rookies

Sportsnaut
Jun 1, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA;  Indiana Fever forward NaLyssa Smith (1) at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Kelsey Mitchell continues her pursuit of her first WNBA All-Star experience when the Indiana Fever visit the Dallas Wings on Thursday night.

The fifth-year pro ranks fourth in the league with a career-best scoring average of 18.8 points and also is averaging a career-high 4.1 assists per game. She ranks fifth in the league with 40 3-point baskets and leads the league with 10 games of 20 or more points.

Mitchell was not among the 10 All-Star Game starters announced Wednesday, but could be among the 12 reserves that will be named next week.

While the July 10 All-Star Game in Chicago does cross her mind, the former second overall pick out of Ohio State in 2018 says the collection of rookies the Fever (5-13) possess have helped her take her game up another notch.

“They all are individually different, but collectively, they’ve made me a kid all over again,” the 26-year-old Mitchell said. “They’re fun, they’re energetic, they’re authentic in who they are and they bring a lot to the table on and off the floor. I think having them around here has made me embrace my leadership.”

The most impressive of the Indiana rookies is No. 2 overall pick NaLyssa Smith of Baylor. Smith is averaging 13.9 points and ranks fifth in the league in rebounding (8.9).

Smith scored a career-best 26 points as the Fever stunned the reigning champion Chicago Sky 89-87 on Sunday.

Now Indiana battles Dallas, which lost 80-75 to the Atlanta Dream on Tuesday for its seventh defeat in 10 games.

Allisha Gray scored 18 points for the Wings (8-9), who play four of their next five at home.

Dallas has experienced consistency issues during a tough stretch that followed a 5-2 start.

“We have spurts,” Wings coach Vickie Johnson told reporters. “You can see our defense, you can see the flow of our offense, and then we go back to becoming a young team.”

Dallas is led by Arike Ogunbowale, who ranks third in the WNBA in scoring (18.9) and leads the league with 51 3-pointers.

The Wings will be without Satou Sabally (knee) for the fifth straight game. She’s averaging 11.6 points and 5.4 rebounds in eight games (five starts).

–Field Level Media