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Sparks trade for Chiney Ogwumike, are now WNBA title favorites

The Sparks reunite Chiney with her sister, and they’re loaded.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament - Final Four - Practice Session Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Sparks have agreed to trade their 2020 first-round pick to the Connecticut Sun in exchange for Chiney Ogwumike, according to ESPN’s Adrian iWojnarowski. This move will reunite Chiney with her sister and former league MVP Nneka Ogwumike.

With Chiney on board, the Sparks have moved from title contention to the championship favorite. Chiney, the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft, returned to her star self last season after she was hampered by injuries. The former Rookie of the Year missed the entire 2015 season due to micro-fracture surgery in her knee, and the 2017 season due to an Achilles injury in China. Chiney returned in 2018 and averaged 14 points on 60 percent shooting, and seven rebounds. Much like her sister, she’s a bruiser in the paint with excellent finishing abilities in the low post.

The Sparks are nearly complete with a team that should compete for a title even without the long-rumored move for last year’s MVP-runner up Liz Cambage. LA is expected to re-sign all-star point guard Chelsea Gray, and has already retained defensive star Alana Beard, former MVP Candace Parker, Nneka, and selected Baylor star Kalani Brown with the No. 7-overall pick in April’s draft.

New WNBA head coach Derek Fisher has his work cut out for him in a brand new role, but he has an elite roster heading into the season. The road to a championship has also, incidentally, been paved due to a flurry of superstar injuries and personal leaves. Lynx star Maya Moore will miss the season for personal reasons, Storm MVP Breanna Stewart will miss the season with an Achilles injury, Diana Taurasi will sit three months after having back surgery, and Skylar Diggins-Smith is expected to miss the season as she’s expecting a child.

Sparks fans have every reason to be thrilled with the trade for Chiney. The team’s centerpiece, Parker, now has the ultimate relief in the post. The Ogwumike’s and Brown should take the burden of battling down low with true bigs and boxing out for rebounds off the versatile point-forward. Chiney is also as reliable as they come to cleanup shots around the rim.

For the Sun, gaining a first-round pick is critical as they try and grow a talented roster into an elite one. Clearing Ogwumike means more minutes for young stars with high potential like 2019 No. 9 pick Kristine Anigwe and 25-year-old Jonquel Jones. Connecticut will run for a playoff spot this season, but they might not have the components for a big run just yet. Maybe an extra pick next season can convert into another star through the draft or by trade.

The rest of the WNBA should be gearing up to face the Los Angeles Sparks, however. The Ogwumike sisters on the same team will be a problem few can handle.