Heading into September the Chicago Sky are 18-13. They are currently fifth and seem to be a lock to have at least one home playoff game. With the playoffs days away, fan bases are dreaming of more than just a few playoff wins. They are dreaming of the franchise’s first WNBA Championship. Let’s take a look at why the Chicago Sky are in a great position for a Championship run.
The Three All Stars
The core of the team had an amazing year. Diamond DeShields has averaged 15.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. Those are career highs and represent a wonderful sophomore jump for DeShields. She has started every game of the season and exceeded every expectation anyone placed on her to start the year. A player like Deshields is the kind of star that can swing a game and carry a team, especially in a single elimination matchup.
Courtney Vandersloot has been one of the most underrated players in the WNBA. Coach James Wade said as much on his very first press conference. This year, she has averaged 11.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 9.0 assists per game. Vandersloot also has career highs in rebounds and assists and is just 1.2 points off from her highest point totals of her career.
The nine year vet is doing everything you’d want. She is an all star, is leading the team on and off the floor, and has started in every game she’s played. There are other players who might have more scoring potential, but Vandersloot is the heart and soul of this team. Having her healthy and starting puts everyone at ease. You know Vandersloot will always make the right basketball play, will not be intimidated by the pressure of the playoffs, and has had championship success overseas with Coach Wade.
Allie Quigley has been an All Star for three consecutive years. This season, she has averaged 14.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. Those aren’t career highs for Quigley, but they are impressive numbers. She has continued to be a threat from the three point line and has started in every game.
Going on a championship run requires having players who are comfortable playing together and can get a quick bucket when they need one. The Sky have that with DeShields, Vandersloot and Quigley. DeShields is dynamic enough to create her own shots, and late game pick and roll with Vandersloot and Quigley are going to be a problem for opponents. With these three stars, anyone who plays the Sky will have a matchup nightmare somewhere on the floor.
The Bigs can play too!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the impact Stefanie Dolson has had on this team. She is averaging 9.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game. She has been so dependable by starting every game, cleaning up the glass, and stretching the floor shooting 3.4 from three point line. She is a leader for the team. You see her talking to the refs, doing the post game press conferences with the coach, and still having fun and being goofy dancing during the pregame.
Astou Ndour has been a pleasant surprise for the Sky. She went from being ninth or tenth on the depth chart to replacing the injured Jantel Lavender in the starting five. She is currently averaging 5.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 0.7 assists. Those are career highs in rebounds and assists. We can safely expect those stats to go even higher as the playoffs begin. Thanks to Astou losing Lavender was not a death sentence for the season. She has been a good replacement that has kept the running smoothly.
The Chicago Sky have the best bench in the WNBA, in my humble opinion. The Sky have players like Gabby Williams and Cheyenne Parker who would be starters on other teams. They have players like Kahleah Copper. who are dependable and make great contributions during their time on the court. They also have some unknown potential like Katie Lou who can maybe get hot and surprise people.
The bench mob has been consistent all year and are one of the main reasons the team has had so much success in 2019. I expect them to play a positive role during a championship run.
Coach of the Year
Many argue and debate about how much of an impact a coach really has on a team. A coach’s role is to be the manager of the team. They have final say, initiate a game plan, and have to know which buttons to push with which players. Ultimately, coaches are judged by wins and losses.
By all accounts Wade has had a coach of the year season. The team has over-achieved, he has created a healthy culture in the locker room, and he has made the right moves with players every time. He moved Gabby to the point, traded for Jantel Lavender, and started Astou Ndour. All of those decisions have worked out well for the Sky.
Another moment where a coach’s value is noticed is on in bound plays and plays after timeouts. The Sky have been very good at that this season. They’ve had great in bound plays, and game winning shots after calling a timeout prior. In these playoff matchups it’s going to be crucial that everyone rises to the occasion. And when it comes to coaching it’s hard to imagine a scenario where James Wade is out coached.
Anything can happen during the playoffs and I’m sure everything will. The Sky are as prepared as anyone to be champions. They have three All Stars, a great starting five, phenomenal bench, great coach, and home court for at least one game. Why can’t the Sky win it all?