Really, the news probably should not be that surprising, as Holdsclaw talked openly about retirement in the past. Still, this sudden of a mid-season decision did come as something of a shock. I’ll leave it to others to analyze the decision and Holdsclaw’s too-brief WNBA career.
My interest lies primarily with how this affects the Sparks, who now find themselves without their leading scorer. Holdsclaw had been playing shooting guard in a big L.A. lineup; with Temeka Johnson still sidelined by microfracture knee surgery, Marta Fernandez and Lisa Willis are the only natural guards on the Sparks roster. Mwadi Mabika will probably see plenty of minutes at two guard, and you’d have to figure L.A. will sign a point guard to fill Holdsclaw’s roster spot.
I think Willis might be the big beneficiary in the short term. She’s averaged only 8.5 minutes per game this season, but has the talent to break out with more action.
The Sparks, who have six players besides Holdsclaw averaging at least five points per game, have the depth to survive her loss. Where it will really be felt, however, is in terms of creating offense. Until or unless Lisa Leslie returns after giving birth, L.A. doesn’t have a lot of players that can get shots for themselves and their teammates. Taj McWilliams-Franklin has been inconsistent this season, while Mwadi Mabika is really better suited as a complementary player. The person who might have to step up is, of all people, rookie guard Marta Fernandez. Fernandez is averaging 11.8 points and 5.2 assists per game. Is the Spaniard capable of more? We’ll find out soon enough.