The Chicago Sky drafted Katie Lou 4th overall in the 2019 WNBA draft to the surprise of many. Draft experts projected Lou as a fringe lottery selection and the Sky appeared to have more need at the center position. As Coach and Gm, this was one of James Wade’s first big decision and many were excited and shocked by it. Draft night is one of excitement and with Katie Lou draft selection topped off with a congratulations video from Larry Bird himself, the future was riveting.
Since that early April night things have not gone as planned for Katie Lou. She has had limited playing time, low production, and dealt with an injury that sidelined her. How did we get here? And what’s next for Katie Lou?
Preseason is fast and hectic in the WNBA. For Chicago, that meant that Katie Lou quickly became a focal point of attention. Katie Lou started both games and averaged 7.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game. Her stats were respectable and she shot 30.8 from three. She was productive and showed promise.
With coach Wade in his first year, it was hard to predict how much his preseason actions would translate to the regular season. Still, many assumed we would see a lot of Katie Lou. She was drafted very high, started both pre season games, so it seemed that Katie Lou would play a major role on the team in 2019.
Regular Season Woes
Things started shaky for Katie Lou in the season opener. She played for a little over 17 minutes, but all of her numbers were dwarfed compared to the preseason. She had 4 points, 1 rebound, and 2 assists. The Sky lost so the takes were scorching hot after the game. Is this team going to be mediocre again? Why did Wade draft Katie Lou when Napheesa Collier is clearly a better player? Is this the depth chart correct? Even coach Wade fell victim to this calling the home opener a “must win game”. I don’t believe the second game in a 34 game season can be a must win, but at the time it felt like it could be.
With the home opener being a “must win game” that the Sky lost, Katie Lou went from 17 plus minutes to zero. The Sky scrapped by with a narrow victory thanks to phenomenal performances from Vandersloot and Allie Quigley. Despite the win, a lot of the chatter after the game was about the lack of minutes for Katie Lou.
Panic began to set in with the Sky fan base. Worry about making a mistake with the number four pick, and anger over her lack of playing time permeated all over twitter. Many of her fans jokingly began calling themselves the “Lou Hive” similar to how Beyonce’s fans are called the “Bee Hive”.
Coach didn’t ease these concerns by rationalizing that this was a must win game and that in these situations he tends to go with veterans. While that does make sense in a vacuum, again it was the second game of the season. Katie Lou is not a veteran, but maybe the implication here as that she is not good enough/ready to be in a tight game that matters. That’s concerning for fans to think about when it comes to a top draft pick.
Injury and beyond
As the season has gone on, things have gotten worse for Katie Lou. She has only played in four games and suffered a hand injury on June 9th game vs the Seattle Storm. She has been cleared to play, but has only played a handful of minutes since then. Unfortunately for Katie Lou, the WNBA season is fast and furious. It’s common to have multiple games on any given week and missing significant time due to injury can ruin a players rhythm for the entire season.
Since her absence, the Sky have been more good than bad. They are now 11-8, three players have made the all star game, and are expected to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016. The team also seems to have a depth chart that’s solidified and rotation that is understood. Predicting the Sky’s starting five and first players off the bench is quite easy now. It appears that it will be even harder for Katie Lou to get a lot of minutes going forward. Still, we are only a bit passed the halfway point in the 2019 season, so what can we expect from Katie Lou with what is left in 2019?
I expect her to play more. The season is long and gruesome. There have to be games where the Sky are either up or down by a significant amount and you can give the rookie some more playing time. We still haven’t seen a lot from Katie Lou and playing her more in actual games will give us a better understanding of what kind of player she can be.
I’d also like to see Katie Lou playing as a stretch four. Many complain that Lou is a “tweener”. Too small to play the four and to slow to play the three. I think it’s too early for that negativity but I think the best case is for her to be a stretch four who can shoot the three.
I think Coach Wade would agree with me as he has consistently stated that Katie Lou will play the four. I’d like Katie Lou to be more aggressive on offense. She has to be on the attack and shoot more threes, drive into the lane, and create a contact. Of course, this is hard to do with such little time. A poor shot selection could quickly get someone back on the bench, but I hope Katie Lou has the confidence to be aggressive.
I wouldn’t consider myself as part of the “Lou Hive”, but I’m obviously hoping Katie Lou has a more productive second half of the season. The lottery pick, Puma sponsored, UConn star, is a great asset for the franchise. Her development could add depth to the roster, boost the Sky’s playoff run, and add excitement to a fan base that already loves her. Here’s to hoping the second half of 2019 is more productive for Katie Lou than the first half was.