Christmas’ Breakout Season a Gift for the Wings

Looking through Dallas Wings box scores, you see Karima Christmas is having a breakout year during the Wings’ inaugural season in DFW.

The sixth-year forward out of Duke University is averaging career highs in points per game (13.2), minutes per game (32.7), field goal percentage (.410), rebounds per game (6.6), and assists per game (2.4) this season.

“I’m just trying to play hard and bring energy in any way I can while being there for my teammates,” Christmas said. “If that means I’m scoring, playing defense, or rebounding. I’m just focused on getting us better every game.”

Christmas has also set single-game career highs in rebounds (15 at Atlanta on July 8), assists (6 vs. Chicago on May 29), and blocks (3- twice) this season, but head coach Fred Williams says her contributions go beyond the stat sheet.

“Many of her games have stood out,” Williams said, highlighting the games versus Phoenix and Minnesota earlier this season. “Some of the stats don’t show this, but what she has had to do defensively has been beneficial. She is a great defender and has grown over the years playing in our league and overseas.”

“She is one of those players you keep knocking down and she keeps getting up,” Williams added on Christmas’ toughness. “That’s good for the younger players to see. That is her being a great leader and showing you can still get up when you get knocked down.”

Christmas’ five seasons in the WNBA puts her as the fourth-most veteran player on the Wings behind Plenette Pierson, Erin Phillips, and Courtney Paris. Her ability is starting to show on the court, and Christmas believes it is her international experience that has led to this breakout season.

“I was in Italy right before the season started,” Christmas explained. “Coming back without a break left me still in game mode. I had a lot of confidence out there, so I was just trying to bring it here and keep progressing.”

But what sticks out most to Christmas this year? It is not the numbers in the stats book that matters, but the results on the scoreboard.

“I wish we could have won more games,” Christmas said. “That’s what sticks out in my mind. There were so many games where we were just right there. We have to keep doing the key things to get ourselves in position for the playoffs because right now that is something that we are in the hunt for.”

The Wings will have many chances to fight for playoff position when WNBA action resumes after the Olympics. While they are outside of the playoff picture right now, the team is only a half-game behind the Washington Mystics for eighth place. Four of the next five games are against teams directly ahead of the Wings in the playoff standings.

“We’ll just need to come out focused,” Christmas said. “Some of those teams we’ve beaten, and some of those teams we haven’t. We just have to focus on the things we did well against them and counter whatever we did to lose. We need to push it to another level because those games are important right out of the break. We don’t have time to say, ‘we’ll get the next one’. We have to come out guns blazing.”

The Wings season resumes on August 26 with a road trip to Phoenix and the seventh-place Mercury. The team returns to the College Park Center two days later for a matchup versus 2015 WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne and the sixth-place Chicago Sky.