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Sparks’ Jordin Canada emerging as a leader – San Bernardino Sun

Sparks’ Jordin Canada emerging as a leader – San Bernardino Sun

As was the case at the Sparks’ recent media day, Jordin Canada sat beside Nneka Ogwumike on the dais Wednesday in Atlanta.

They’d been the first members of the team to meet the media on April 26 and they were the two tasked with answering reporters’ questions after the Sparks’ first loss.

Ogwumike, 31, is the longest-tenured member of the team, a six-time All-Star, the 2016 league MVP and, for all intents, the WNBA’s leading stateswoman by virtue of her far-reaching voice and position as the president of the players’ association.

Canada, 26, is the Sparks’ new starting point guard. She is a two-time WNBA champion and native Angeleno whose basketball bringing up was entirely local before she left for a pretty good job in Seattle, where she’d come off the bench for 67 of 112 games for a Storm team that still employs future Hall of Fame point guard Sue Bird.

Before the Sparks’ season-opening victory to which Canada would contribute so much, Coach and General Manager Derek Fisher described her as a “quiet leader.” He also noted that the former LA Windward High School and UCLA star was still learning her new team’s vocabulary and, for that matter, trying to recover and ramp up following a season abroad in Hungary.

But Fisher also made it clear the Sparks cast Canada in a major role with this team that has great potential and expectations to match.

“Jordin’s gonna have a high degree of responsibility for us,” Fisher said. β€œShe’s really trying to get a grasp there so she can lead and hold other people accountable for being in the right spots and making sure they understand what they’re trying to do possession by possession. …

“We’re gonna be really glad to have her experience, and her championship experience, at that,” Fisher added before LA’s 98-91 overtime victory in Chicago. “She’s played big minutes with big players in big games and we’re probably gonna need some of that tonight even in order to figure out a way to get this win.”

(Narrator: They did need it, and she delivered a team-high eight assists and 21 points – 17 coming in the fourth quarter and overtime.)

Through three games, the 5-foot-6 speedster is averaging 30 minutes per gameβ€”more than anyone beside Ogwumike on the Sparks and more than in any of Canada’s four seasons with the Storm. She’s making good use of those minutes, shooting 50% from the floor and averaging career and team highs in points (16.7) and assists (5.7, which is eighth-best in the WNBA).

There’s also her influence. After the Sparks’ latest comeback bid fell short in Atlanta, where they nearly overcame a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit before falling 77-75, it was a resolute Canada who spoke first on a video conference with reporters.

“We talked about this in the locker room: ‘This is only the third game of the season, it’s the long game,'” she said. β€œA lot of us have not played together. So we’re still trying to figure some things out, and we kind of came to the conclusion we gotta come out with a better start. …

β€œWe’re still trying to figure each other out,” added Canada, sounding as cool and collected as she looks at the free-throw line, where she’s 16 for 16 this season.

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