As reported on Monday, the owner of the Tulsa Shock intends to move the franchise to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, pending the approval of the WNBA Board of Governors. As a general fan of basketball -- and a passing fan of the WNBA specifically -- I am thrilled about this decision. While not everyone who visits Mavs Moneyball is likely to be a huge WNBA fan, this is news that we can all get excited about.
We're all here because we're fans of basketball. And the Shock have the potential to be a really fun team to watch in the coming seasons. The headliner in all of this is that one of the most talented and charismatic stars of the WNBA will now call Dallas home. Skylar Diggins had tremendous success in college, leading Notre Dame to a Sweet Sixteen, a Final Four and two championship appearances. Diggins was picked by the Shock third overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft, and last year won the WNBA's Most Improved Player Award. She is the whole package: scoring, passing, defense, leadership, and personality.
She is joined in the backcourt by Odyssey Sims, the second overall pick in the 2014 draft. Between the two of them and head coach Fred Williams -- a veteran coach who has been in the WNBA for nearly two decades -- the Shock got off to a roaring 8-1 start this season. Unfortunately, injury could ruin what would've been the Shock's first winning season since leaving Detroit. Diggins is out for the season with a torn ACL, and Sims played only three games before injuring her knee. Sims recently returned, but it will be interesting to see whether the Shock can continue their success with just one of their stars.
But regardless, Dallas is getting an exciting young team to watch if this relocation goes forward. Even though they are 2-5 so far without Diggins, the Shock are still second in the WNBA in scoring and rebounds. Williams runs a fast-paced, up-tempo offense that is very pick-and-roll heavy. This is going to be a lot of fun.
So why is such an exciting young team in danger of relocation in the first place? Well, as I mentioned, if the Shock finish above .500 this season, it'll be the first time they will have done that since moving to Tulsa. The team also ranked close to the bottom of the WNBA in attendance figures year after year. Tulsa is also one of the smaller markets in the WNBA (which is saying something). The team began in Detroit, where it won three championships under the Detroit Pistons ownership group. Unfortunately, they elected to get out of the WNBA in 2010, and the current ownership group -- based in Tulsa -- stepped up to purchase the team. The venture hasn't worked out as well as they hoped, and now majority owner Bill Cameron is looking to find a new home for the team that will hopefully allow the team to return to its former success.
Assuming the Shock's relocation is approved, there will be some interesting details to work out. First of all, where might the team play? I find it a bit worrisome that most reports discuss the Shock relocating to "the DFW area." So not necessarily Dallas. The most obvious choice is the American Airlines Center. Half the teams in the WNBA share an arena with an NBA team, so this wouldn't be unusual. However, the ownership group would have to hope that attendance numbers improve quite a bit if they are going to move into a building of that size. Other potential options include Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco (home of the D-League Texas Legends) or perhaps one of the nicer local college arenas, such as SMU's Moody Coliseum or UT Arlington's College Park Center.
Another question is whether the team will carry over its existing name. The Shock name did carry over from Detroit to Tulsa, though that made some sense, seeing as how "Shock" corresponds so nicely with the name of the nearby Oklahoma City Thunder. However, it's fairly common for WNBA teams to play off or in some way resemble the identity of the NBA with which they share cities or states. It would be fun to have a more Dallas-oriented team name. Feel free to drop some suggestions in the comments section.
Ultimately, this isn't a done deal. The move has to be approved by the WNBA Board of Governors. And there are rumors floating around that many of the team's minority owners don't want to see the team moved. So let's not go overboard in the speculation just yet.
But if the WNBA is indeed coming to Dallas, we should be getting a great team to root for. And if you're so enthused about this news that you'd like to get a jump on things, you can watch all the WNBA you want for a mere $14.99 on iPhone, iPad, or Android device.