Astou Ndour returned to the Sky from her national team stint with Spain. Now that she’s back, this is a great time to do a deep dive into what she can contribute to the Chicago Sky in 2019.
Spanish team success
Astou Ndour played great for Spain in EuroBasket 2019. She averaged 14.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 0.3 assists per game. That’s exponentially higher than her WNBA averages of 4.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 0.3 assists per game. So why such dramatic changes in National team play versus the WNBA? Well for one the WNBA is arguably the hardest league to play in in professional sports. The speed and the physicality is hard to replicate it any competitive level. So while Astou had an incredible run with Spain, it’s not realistic to expect similar production from her in the W.
Still, this production by Astou in Spain is a positive. She lead the team in all aspects. She was the vocal leader of the team in addition to being a dominant force in the paint and averaging 84.6% from the free throw line. Hopefully, she can translate that experience into being a more confident, aggressive, and vocal leader in the WNBA.
Astou needs time
We only saw Astou play briefly for Chicago before she left to participate in EuroBasket. Coach Wade has been known for shaking up the rotation and roles of players on the Chicago Sky Roster. So it’s possible Astou’s role with the team can be drastically different then it has been in previous years.
Throughout her WNBA career, Astou averaged 12.1 minutes per game. But under Coach Wade earlier in the year, her average dipped to 8.3 minutes per game. With her current form and with the WNBA season being so compressed, I expect her minutes to rise closer to her career average. At the very least, an increase in her time can give rest to the bigs the Chicago Sky have on the roster.
Having Astou playing at least 10 minutes per game gives her an opportunity to incorporate herself into the offense. I think anything less will be not enough to not only make an assessment, but also to make a significant impact on the team. Astou, in my opinion, can be a bit more than just someone who gives the starters a breather. She had her best year in 2016 when she averaged 6 points per game, 3.2 rebounds, and 0.4 assists in 14.9 minutes per game. The results are obvious. The more Astou plays, the more her production improves.
Will she get it?
Still, it’s hard to incorporate a player into a team mid season. Currently the Chicago Sky are 8-8 fighting to stay above .500 fighting for a playoff spot. Coach Wade has shown that if things are tight he will stay with the players he’s comfortable with. How likely is he to give Astou significant minutes in a tight game? It’s possible Astou will have to be patient because the team is battling for a playoff berth in a fast paced league.
Astou being back with the Chicago Sky is a positive. It adds depth to the bench, depth to the center position, and adds experience to a relatively young team. At worst, Astou can come in for eight minutes per game and put up a couple points, grab a few rebounds, and give the starters some rest or help them when they get into foul trouble.
At best, Astou Ndour can play double digit minutes and be an impactful offensive threat off the bench. I believe Astou can play double digit minutes for the Chicago Sky and positively impact the team pushing to make the playoffs. She has the speed, height, and athleticism to be a productive center in the WNBA. Will she get the opportunity to produce and be her best self reaching her 2016 form? We will soon find out.