Brittney Sykes returns to the Sparks
"I'm very big on seeing how something plays out, especially if there is the potential for growth," Sykes said
|David Yapkowitz||Feb 10||1|
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The Los Angeles Sparks may have lost some key players, to put it mildly, since the start of WNBA free agency, but they made a big move to help shore up the roster by bringing back restricted free agent Brittney Sykes.
Sykes emerged as one of the Sparks’ most dependable players last season on both ends of the court. She started 14 of the 21 games she played in and was usually tasked with defending the opponent's best perimeter player.
On a conference call with media Tuesday morning, Sykes said the decision to return to Los Angeles was all about stability. She enjoyed her first season with the team and wanted to continue to build on that.
"I'm very big on seeing how something plays out, especially if there is the potential for growth," Sykes said. "I look forward to that and forward to the pieces that we have. Why not make some new magic and make some new memories."
And the Sparks will certainly have the opportunity to make some new magic. The team is going to look radically different than in years past with the departures of Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray. They're going to be incorporating new pieces in Kristi Toliver who sat out last season, and Erica Wheeler who signed as a free agent.
Both players will likely see considerable time alongside Sykes on the wings and she's looking forward to getting out on the court with them and picking up the pace.
"We can get up and down the floor faster. Not to say that we couldn't before, but it allows us to bring more speed to the court at the same time, it brings quickness," Sykes said. "Those type of player that Kristi and Erica are, I can get up and down the floor and they can throw a 94-foot pass with ease. We can build that connection, we can get up and down that fast pace and I'm looking forward to it."
Sykes made some big strides in her game last season both offensively and defensively. On the defensive end, she was named to the WNBA's All-Defensive Second Team and was the team's best perimeter defender.
Scoring-wise, she really worked on her ability to shoot from the outside. Coming over from the Atlanta Dream, Sykes was known as a slasher who could attack defenses off the dribble and get herself to the free-throw line. This past season, she really became a much more dependable threat with her jumper. She shot a career-high 48.7 percent from the field.
She credited head coach Derek Fisher's system with allowing her to get easy scoring opportunities.
"I just see it as how our offense is set up. They've set up our offense in the sense of pieces and where I can score," Sykes said. "Six or eight points are from fastbreak layups or backdoor cut or a read that we've made on offense as a team. I look forward to being able to get easy points like that because that just keeps the defense on edge."
Sykes is also looking to continue her growth in the locker room as well. She grew a little bit in becoming more of a vocal leader. With Parker and Gray gone, there's room for her to continue to emerge as one of the team's leaders. She's looking forward to inspiring her teammates.
"I'm in the mindset of staying ready so I don't have to get ready. Whatever plate I have to step up to, then so be it," Sykes said. "I'm going to take it, I'm a competitor. I look forward to it, whatever it may be. I just know it's going to be fun. I know I'm going to be on the team with some people who are ready to go to war and get a ring. I look forward to that."