With 4.6 seconds left in the half against the Dream on July 28, Olivia Nelson-Ododa sent the ball to Chennedy Carter. She took the ball coast-to-coast and beat the buzzer with not a half-court heave but a layup. She went coast to coast in under five seconds, using only five dribbles, burning past Dream’s five defenders.
The layup electrified the crowd in the Crypto.com Arena and gave the Sparks a double-digit lead before halftime. They then won the match.
Unfortunately, that was the last game the Sparks won. Since then, they’ve contract-divorced Liz Cambage, lost five straight, and fallen out of eighth and final playoff spot. With only five games left, it’s time for the Sparks to go to Hollywood and give Chennedy Carter a bigger role.
Hollywood is an interesting player in a difficult situation. She is both past and future as far as the Sparks are concerned. As a Derek Fisher move, she is an investment of the previous regime. And the investment was quite heavy. The Sparks gave up Erica Wheeler, a 2022 second-round pick, and a 2023 first-round pick to Atlanta in exchange for Chennedy Carter and the rights to Li Yueru. At the time, Fisher was thrilled with what Carter could bring to Los Angeles. At just 23, she was excited about the potential for her to be a star for many years to come.
As a young prospect, she has the skills to be a player the Sparks can grow around. That’s if the team gives him that opportunity. His production has dropped this season, but so have his minutes. She plays 15.6 minutes per game, ten minutes less than her career average. She went from an automatic starter in Atlanta to a bench player in LA She embraced the role and played well enough to be the Sparks’ sixth wife, but for a young league player, you’d want to see her play more and get an opportunity, especially as a guard.
I don’t know if Carter is more the past or the future, but I know she is the present. The Sparks need to win games. 538 has the odds of the Sparks making the playoffs at just eight percent, with the team set to win just one more game this season. With the league’s second-longest losing streak and playoff hopes dwindling, why not turn to your exciting young guard you’ve invested so much in? A guard who can pick up the tempo, ignite the attack and breathe life into the team? Interim head coach Fred Williams hinted that he would use Carter more and even start her last week when asked about it.
I thought about it, it’s getting closer, Williams said. And then his energy coming off the bench helps a lot; so I have to watch how much energy I have coming off the bench if I throw it. So that’s something that my staff and I will be looking at and discussing.
Since then, Chennedy Carter hasn’t been watched much on the pitch. She played her usual 15 minutes against the Liberty, then was DNP the next game against New York. Barring an unreported injury, Chennedy Carter playing zero minutes at full health when the team has so many injuries and struggling to find success is confusing. Carter shouldn’t just be playing; she may be the only player on the bench with the ability to explode offensively, just like she did against the Mercury last week when she scored 23 points while shooting 80 percent from the field. Few players in the WNBA have the ability to have an offensive explosion like that, and given the Sparks are struggling to score the basketball (second-to-last in runs scored), giving Carter more time worth it.
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Well, now is the time for the Sparks to try something different. The season is on the line, and you can’t dance with whoever brought you when you’re not where you want to be. Carter gives you the offense you desperately crave, better pace, and the energy you so badly need. It’s time for Los Angeles to go Hollywood and find out if she’s a future star or an unrecoverable past.
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