(News4usonline) – Former Los Angeles Sparks head coach Derek Fisher got it right when talking about the potential contribution that forward Katie Lou Samuelson might be able to add to the team this season.
“In addition to her perimeter shooting, Katie Lou brings defensive versatility and length. She has great on-court instincts and we’re excited to build with her moving forward,” Fisher said after the Sparks had acquired Samuelson in a trade deal with the Seattle Storm.
“The addition of Katie Lou Samuelson, a first-round pick, plus meaningful cap space provides us the flexibility needed to strengthen our 2022 roster at multiple positions,” Fisher said at that time after the deal had been completed. “This trade also increases our draft assets and better positions ourselves for future success.”
After starring at the University of Connecticut, Samuelson was such a hot commodity in the 2019 WNBA Draft that she wound up being the No. 4 overall pick by the Chicago Sky. The Huntington Beach native’s stint with the Sky lasted just one season as did stops in Dallas and with Seattle.
Coming back home to play in Southern California has proved to be beneficial for Samuelson and the Sparks. The fourth-year player by far is having the best season of her career, averaging 10.5 points and three rebounds a game for the Sparks. In a June 25 game against Seattle, Samuelson put up 17 points and six rebounds in the Sparks’ 85-77 win.
She has reached double-figures in scoring 10 times this season. At the beginning of the season, the Sparks had high expectations of making a deep run into the postseason. However, after getting off to a rough start that culminated with the firing of Fisher, the Sparks have had to fight their way back to respectability.
The Sparks are the No. 7 seed in the WNBA standings. Los Angeles as well as Samuelson have a chance to climb in the standings with home games against No. 1 Chicago (July 14), No. 4 Seattle (July 7), No. 5 Washington (July 12), and No. 6 Atlanta (July 21) that could make or break their season.
Samuelson could be the key in determining how far the Sparks will go in the regular season, let alone have a strong playoff push. Los Angeles has big-name stars in forward Nneka Ogwumike, point guard Jordin Canada and center Liz Cambage, but Samuelson is proving her worth on the court.
In the Sparks’ recent wins against the Dallas Wings (14 points) and New York Liberty (12 points), Samuelson is giving the Sparks the kind of contribution they expected from her when they made the trade for the young hooper.
With that said, Samuelson can stand to improve on her three-point shooting and become more efficient in her field goal attempts. If she is able to build on those areas of her game, Samuelson just might be the next dominant player on the Sparks’ roster. As a player who won a title with Uconn, Samuelson brings that championship pedigree with her. This is something Sparks might need down the stretch of the regular season.
Featured Image: From left to right: Kelsey Plum, Katie Lou Samuelson, Allisha Gray and Stefanie Dolson pictured at the FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in May 2021, where the team secured the U.S. spot in the inaugural Olympic 3×3 tournament. (FIBA)