The playoff-bound Chicago Sky are enjoying a strong turnaround in 2019
CHICAGO – Since the departure of their face of the franchise, they’d found themselves on the outside looking in when it came playoff time.
Elena Delle Donne’s trade from the Chicago Sky after the 2016 season was followed by back-to-back losing seasons in 2017 and 2018. It was an abrupt end to what had been a strong four-year run for the team which included a WNBA Finals appearance in 2014.
But a switch at head coach, the play of seasoned veterans, and some new talented players have led to a revival of the Sky in 2019. It’s been good enough that they won’t be sitting at home this postseason.
On Thursday night, thanks to a couple of results from around the league, the Sky officially qualified for the WNBA Playoffs, ending their drought while continuing a strong turnaround season under new head coach and GM James Wade.
They’ve won three consecutive games to improve the record to 18-11 on the season, tying the third-highest regular season win total in franchise history with five games remaining.
The second of the three-consecutive wins came against the reigning champion Mystics, whom the Sky were 0-4 against since Delle Donne joined that team. On Sunday, the Sky rallied from an eight-point deficit against the Mercury to win by eight in Phoenix, keeping them fifth in the WNBA standings.
They’ve managed to do this after losing forward Jantel Lavender to a foot injury which required surgery.
Two familiar names have led the way for the Sky as guards Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot have once again delivered during All-Star seasons.
Quigley is averaging 14 points a game, second on the team, while Vandersloot leads the WNBA with nine assists per game, which is three better than anyone else in the league.
Second-year forward Diamond DeShields, the third-overall pick of the 2018 WNBA Draft, continues the strong start to her career by leading the Sky in scoring with 15.7 points per game. Last season, her 14.4 points per game in her rookie season were only second to Quigley on the scoring list.
Stefanie Dolson, who was acquired in the Delle Donne trade, is averaging 9.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest as she’s started all 29 games this season.
Now this group will get their chances to test their skill in the postseason and perhaps begin another successful run of seasons for the Sky in the WNBA.