Williams Provides Instant Offense For Sparks

 

By Brady Klopfer

 

On Friday, in Dallas, the Sparks’ Riquna Williams took six shots. Five of them were beyond the arc. All of them missed the basket.

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But shooters shoot, and it isn’t a coincidence that the WNBA record of 51 points in a game is held by Williams. She’s a shooter, and all she knows is how to shoot herself right out of a slump.

On Sunday she bounced back in monstrous fashion. In fewer than 15 minutes of action, Williams splashed in a shocking 25 points, while making 7 of 9 from distance. Two days later, rematched against the Wings team that gave her fits before, Williams calmly buried four triples in just five attempts.

In two games and fewer than 33 minutes, Williams’ stat line stood as follows: 13 of 16 shooting, 11 of 14 from deep and 37 points. Just like that.

For the Sparks, Williams isn’t just a shooter off the bench. She is, to use a cringey pun, a spark, one that provides the team with not only a burst of scoring, but high energy play.

On Sunday, the team was struggling to create separation from the Liberty until Williams entered the game in the second quarter. In a blitz, her quick trigger put a quartet of three balls into the hoop, and Los Angeles never looked back.

After the game, Williams broke down how she got into such a zone, saying, “It just happens. I don’t think, I just enjoy the game. I really don’t hear anything, I don’t hear anybody, I just stick to what I know and what I’m doing.”

As for that locked in mentality that shooters so often espouse, Williams is there. After making shooting look easy on Tuesday, she said of her two-game run that, “Right now I’m just comfortable. Right now all I see is ball in basket.” That confidence goes a long way after the 0-for-6 on Friday. Williams noted that she didn’t make any mechanical adjustments after the rough outing, but that she tried to stop rushing things. Apparently it worked.

But the bigger story isn’t the scoring ability; anyone who follows the league is well versed in how quickly Williams can light up the box score. Instead, it’s the impact it has on the team, having that flurry of points sitting in the “Break In Case of Emergency” glass box. And coach Brian Agler knows that when he needs the boost in energy, Williams is always there waiting.

“What it’s like is great, from a coaching standpoint,” Agler remarked, when asked about Williams’ abilities off the bench. “I like the role that she’s playing. She obviously feels comfortable in it, she’s playing very well.”

While Agler was enthused with Williams’ shot-making ability, he also pointed to her elite athleticism and rapidly developing defensive impact. As so many short-lived bench scorers have proven, you need to provide more than just a smooth jumper to consistently impact the game, and Williams is doing exactly that. And because of it, Agler conceded that he needs to find a way to get Williams more minutes - a champagne problem if ever there was one.

As for Williams, she appears happy with the role she has. And while coming off the bench isn’t easy for everyone, Williams shared a pretty simple secret: “It’s really just enjoying your job. Then having such a great group around you, it’s fairly easy.” She stopped to smile before hurling praises at her star teammates: “More for me, I should say.”