Liz Cambage Trade: Ramifications for Fantasy WNBA Players

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 09: Elizabeth Cambage of Australia contests the ball with Hannah Shaw of England during the Preliminary Basketball round match between Australia and England on day five of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Townsville Entertainment Centre on April 9, 2018 on the Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Center Liz Cambage being moved from the Dallas Wings to the Las Vegas Aces has been the biggest storyline of the WNBA preseason. For fantasy WNBA players, how the move affects both teams is intriguing.

Not Enough Space in Las Vegas?

Cambage was among the top fantasy plays in the league in 2018, thanks largely to leading the WNBA in scoring with an average tally of 23.4 points. The concern for fantasy players on her new team will be touches and opportunities to score. Cambage attempted 459 shots in 2018 as Dallas’ top option, but she may not have as heavy of a featured role in Las Vegas. She will share the court with second-year post player A’ja Wilson, who led the Aces in scoring with 20.7 points per game on 512 shot attempts. Guard Moriah Jefferson is now a member of the Wings, but it’s unlikely that is enough on its own to clear enough space for both Cambage and Wilson to thrive from a fantasy perspective to the same extent they did in 2018. Creating a balance between the two post players will be best for Las Vegas’ title hopes but for fantasy players who want to enjoy the same production from either Cambage or Wilson in 2019 that they got from both in 2018, that aspiration is now in doubt.

The Elephant in the Room With Cambage

With Cambage there will always be the question of whether she is content with her situation. She was drafted by the franchise which is now the Dallas Wings in 2011 when the team was the Tulsa Shock, but immediately made it clear she did not want to play there. After playing just 20 games in the 2013 season for Tulsa, she left the team and did not return on her rookie contract. She signed a new contract with Dallas before the 2018 season but in January demanded the trade which has now transpired. In the few days before the trade was made official, she expressed more sentiments of not being content with her situation and she’s never been shy about stating that it’s her ultimate goal to play in Europe. While the Aces will likely do all they can to keep her content, fantasy owners should keep tabs on this storyline.

Evaluating the Return for Dallas

The 2019 Wings team will be a very different squad than the one which nabbed a playoff spot in 2018. Besides Cambage’s departure, a new head coach in Brian Agler is at the helm. Add to that two 2019 draft picks who figure to see significant minutes in Arike Ogunbowale and Megan Gustafson plus an uncertain time table for the return of guard Skylar Diggins-Smith from maternity leave and much is uncertain for fantasy players considering Dallas’ players.

As far as the two players Dallas acquired goes, there is some flier potential. In guard Moriah Jefferson, the Wings have gotten a proven role player. Jefferson got into 15 games last season, averaging 15.5 minutes per game. She averaged 5.3 points and 2.1 assists per game but most importantly almost a 3-to-1 assist to turnover ratio. There may be an opportunity for fantasy owners to buy low on Jefferson. Forward Isabelle Harrison did not play in 2018 because of a temporary suspension but in 2017 she finished in the top 20 in the league in blocked shots, field goal percentage and rebounding. If she sees significant minutes, she could be an inexpensive option for players looking to add blocked shots and rebounding to their games.

The overall theme of the Cambage trade is that it creates a series of unknowns for WNBA fantasy players. Cambage is sure to be productive with the ball in her hands, the question is simply how much that will happen.