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Orange in the WNBA: Brittney Sykes seeks consistency, defensive domination in year five

Entering her fifth season in the W and second with Los Angeles, Sykes looks to find consistency in her offensive game while staying aggressive for the Sparks

Seattle Storm v Los Angeles Sparks Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Back in 2017, former Syracuse Orange women’s basketball player Brittney Sykes was beginning her first WNBA Training Camp with the Atlanta Dream. Fast forward five years, Sykes enters her fifth season overall and second year with the Los Angeles Sparks as one of the top defensive threats in the league.

“Wow, Year five,” Sykes took a minute to reflect when asked about what she worked on this offseason.

“I added some things to my offensive game. I slowed down my game in the sense of pace. I’m not going 100 miles per hour anymore and I’m glad that finally in Year 5 I’ve kind of mastered that craft.”

In five WNBA seasons, Sykes has accumulated 1,312 points, 448 rebounds, 263 assists, 80 steals, and 58 blocks. She has started in 71 of 118 games played. During her rookie season with the Dream, Sykes averaged 13.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game and earned a spot on the 2017 WNBA All-Rookie Team.

“I’m just looking to make sure that I become a more consistent shooter and I stay aggressive. We all know what we’re all capable of. I know what I’m capable of.”

Sykes was traded to LA in 2020 and immediately made an impact for the Sparks. The Orange legend averaged 10.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.5 steals per game last year and earned 14 starts in 21 games she played in. Sykes ranked eighth in field goal percentage (56.4%) in the league and was named to the WNBA All-Defense Second Team.

The Sparks went 15-7 last season in the ‘Wubble’ and earned the third seed in the playoffs. LA was knocked out of the playoffs in the quarterfinals by the Connecticut Sun.

“It’s the simple fact of me trying to do it consistently, so that’s my biggest thing. Also just getting through those tough spots and not getting on myself so hard, emotionally and mentally. Pushing through those and still being the player that I am.”

Sykes was the highest draft pick in Orange history at No. 7 overall in 2017. At Syracuse, Sykes was named to the WBCA Division I Coaches All-America Honorable Mention Team, WBCA All-Region 1 Team, All-Atlantic Coast Conference First Team, and ACC All-Defensive Team. The Newark native helped lead the Orange to their lone NCAA Championship appearance in 2016.

The combination of Sykes and 2020 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Candace Parker gave the Sparks the third best defensive rating in the league by Parker, who led LA in scoring last season with 14.7 ppg, joined the Chicago Sky this offseason. This has left room for Sykes to step in and fill the shoes of Parker on both ends of the court. If Sykes can find the right balance of consistency and aggression, the Los Angeles Sparks will be the team to beat this season as they start their quest for the cities’ fourth WNBA Championship.