The Chicago Sky seem poised to have their best year since 2016 as they sit at 5th place in the standings. The Sky’s bench has played a crucial role in the team’s success this season. The Bench Mob consists of players having breakout seasons, international stars, and a couple of rookies. Let’s do a deep dive into each of these players roles, what they’ve accomplished this year, and what we can expect from them moving forward.
First off the Bench
Cheyenne Parker is one of the first players off the bench for the Sky and for good reason. She is averaging 7.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 0.8 assists per game. Her averages are near her career-bests in every category, except points where she has taken a slight dip. As a forward, her role is pivotal. This team doesn’t have many bigs and they need depth in that position if they want to stay in playoff contention.
Watching Cheyenne Parker play is a joy. She is explosive and powerful. She always brings energy and intensity to the game. Communicating with teammates, shouting in joy when she makes a good play, and glaring at refs when she disagrees with a call. I expect Parker to come off the bench early. Her minutes could increase and she can continue to be a star for the Sky as long as she stays out of foul trouble.
Point Gabby has been a surprise this year. She is still labeled as a Forward on the Chicago Sky website. But Coach Wade has made it very clear she is a point guard in this league and on this team. I don’t think anyone predicted Gabby Williams would come off the bench or play point guard prior to the start of the season yet, here we are.
Seeing a promising young player like Gabby on the bench to begin the game could be frustrating. But, context matters. If Coach Wade views her as a point guard, then her bench role is correct because she will not be overtaking All-Star Courtney Vandersloot in the starting lineup.
As a point guard, you can see the potential for Gabby to be dominant. At 5-11 with her athletic ability, she can be an absolute beast. Opposing guards struggle to defend her when she runs the offense. That’s why her points per game only went down from 7.3 to 6.1, even though her minutes decreased from 23.0 to 15.9 per game. I think we can expect more of the same from Gabby Williams. She needs an offseason, so she can really dig into this new role and develop her skills for this position. But suffice to say that I’m excited to see Point Gabby in 2020.
I’ve previously written about Astou Ndour and her great international play for Spain this year. Unfortunately, that performance meant she has been unavailable for most of the Chicago Sky season. Now, she is back and is quickly becoming a bigger part of the team game after game. Having Astou at the top of her game is huge for the Chicago Sky.
They need a center to relieve Dolson when she needs a breather, is in foul trouble, or is not having a great game. Ndour being able to take over a shift or two makes the team that much stronger. For me, Astou playing double-digit minutes, scoring 4 points and grabbing a few rebounds is perfect. If she can just be a positive on the court during the minutes, she is given that would be a successful second half for Astou.
Kahleah Copper is having a career year. She is averaging 7.6 points, 1.8 rebounds, and and 1.0 assists per game. While the production increase is great, Cooper has improved off the stat sheet as well. Watching her on the court, she is so much faster so much stronger than before. She’s able to burn past defenders, drive to the lane, and sustain the contact from bigs. With Coach Wade wanting to play very fast basketball, Copper fits in perfectly with the team’s identity.
A few games ago I noticed Copper’s improvement and to be honest I thought it was a fluke. I tend to be a bit more conservative than most and didn’t want to overreact to a couple of good plays/good games. But time and time again, Copper impressed me and seems to be getting better each game. I hope her good form continues to improve and given her recent performances.
Jamierra Faulkner tore her ACL and missed all of 2017. Since then, she also had a couple of surgeries in July to remove excess scar tissue. She has played in four games this year averaging six minutes per game. Honestly, all I want from Faulkner is for her to be healthy. Whatever impact she can make is great, but I just want her to be healthy and able to play the rest of the season. It would be great to get that 2016 Faulkner back, but for now I’m just hoping for good health and everything else is a plus.
The Lou Hive has got to be happy about the return of Katie Lou. She had her best game against the Connecticut Sun playing for 8 minutes and scoring 6 points. She has had a difficult time adjusting to the WNBA and she is coming back from an injury so we are unsure how healthy she feels at this time. I think every Chicago Sky fan is rooting hard for Katie Lou and is hoping she can be an electric three point shooter. My expectations are conservative for the time being. For now I’d like to see her get some more playing time and just to be more aggressive on the offensive side of the basketball.
Chole Jackson doesn’t have much game film to analyze. She has only played double digit minutes in one game and that was on May 25th versus the Lynx. With such a talented roster and only so many minutes available I don’t see this changing unless an injury occurs. Still, every time Jackson enters a game I perk up and pay close attention. She is one of the biggest unknowns on the roster and I hope we can see her play a bit more at some point this season.
The Chicago Sky are currently 6th in the WNBA standings and the Bench Mob are a big reason why. So many great options off the bench and their energy and enthusiasm they have for this team is clear. With Point Gabby and Cheyenne leading the charge, Kahleah Copper having a career year, and international stars like Astou, the Chicago Sky starters are in good hands. At the time of this posting, the Chicago Sky are the healthiest team in the WNBA. They have zero injuries to report and are the surprise team of the league. If the Bench mob continues to perform in the second half of the season as they did in the first. This will be a team and bench no one is going to want to play come playoff time.