Despite Rocky Start, There is Hope for the Chicago Sky

To my dearest Chicago Sky fans: this isn’t going to be the season that you tell your grandchildren about in the future when you’re relaxing in your hover-rocking chair.

After starting the season 2-0, the Sky has plummeted in the standings after a rough 3-9 stretch. Its current ninth-place standing looks even worse when taking into account that the Liberty and Fever have a combined 5-21 record at the bottom of the rankings.

Yes, for now, the team is one spot out of the playoffs, but that isn’t what the focus should be for them. With 8 of the 12 players on the roster having three years or less of WNBA experience, every game is valuable for the youngsters. What the team has shown halfway through the season doesn’t really scream “playoff contender.”

The Sky can start to regroup by giving Diamond DeShields the ball more.

Chicago’s coaching staff has done a great job managing DeShield’s workload as she is averaging just over 25 minutes a game. However, she is making the most of her opportunities. The rookie guard is 15th in the league in usage rate and is second on the team in scoring (13 points per game).

There is still a lot that DeShields can improve on this season, and she needs the opportunity to do so.

D.D. has already proven that she has the potential to be an elite scorer in this league. Her ability as a passer is still developing as she hasn’t found consistency finding the open woman on the court. She has eight games this season where she has had more turnovers than assists. Her 1.6 assists per game rank 39th amongst guards in the WNBA.

So why give her the ball more?

The more minutes DeShields gets, the better her decision making is going to get. She hasn’t shot the ball efficiently this season as she boasts a 38 percent clip from the field. As she continues to grow though, D.D. will hopefully begin to take less contested shots and try to be a more willing passer. There aren’t a lot of consistent, pure scorers on the Sky right now but if DeShields begins to spread the floor, there could be more opportunities for high percentage shots for her teammates.

Speaking of her teammates, DeShields can’t shoulder all of the turnover blame for the Sky.

It seems pretty straightforward, BUT the Sky needs to turn the ball over less. It averages the most turnovers per game while also sporting the highest turnover percentage in the league. This is almost to be expected from a young team like Chicago, but that only means that playing smart basketball needs to be emphasized on the offensive end.

While D.D. has been an erratic passer, veteran Alex Quigley has been uncharacteristically poor with whipping the ball around the court. She is averaging a career-worst 2.5 turnovers per game which would be 1.2 above her career average. It is a daunting task to stay in games if the backcourt averages 4.6 turnovers a game.

One way the Sky can limit its turnovers is letting DeShields take on more of a distributing role and work a drive-and-kick system featuring Quigley on the outside. Quigley is already one of the game’s top three-point scorers and should have sharp-shooting be her primary role. There is the argument to be made that teams can easily adjust to a system like this by covering Quigley in the corner every time DeShields drives. However, D.D. has all of the tools to exploit that trap. She explodes to the rim every time she gets the chance (she is getting to the line five times a game) which can keep the defense guessing enough so that Quigley will be free on some possessions.

With a youthful squad, there isn’t a ton of pressure to be a contending playoff team. There should be some urgency though in finding something to improve on every time the Sky takes the court. DeShields is the centerpiece of Chicago’s future, and the franchise should be ready to unleash her once the coaching staff feels ready to do so.

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