Prior to the season starting, the Chicago Sky dealt Elena Delle Donne to the Washington Mystics for a bevy of assets.
I wondered at the start of the season how the Chicago Sky would perform as a team without arguably the best player in the WNBA, Elena Delle Donne. Well, their season could not have started with a higher degree of difficulty. They took on the Minnesota Lynx, and they lost.
Cappie Pondexter has tried to shoulder the load of losing Delle Donne but is at the wrong end of her career do this for a season. Don’t get me wrong, she still has a killer Cappie Crossover but without Delle Donne, other teams were able to stop Pondexter from being effective.
This led to a poor record of 3-12 in the first 15 games. The Coach Amber Stocks was forced to hand the keys of the franchise to Courtney Vandersloot due to the WNBA concussion protocol. In the four games since then, Vandersloot has changed the franchise.
In the first game with Pondexter out the Sky beat the Minnesota Lynx 100-76 on the back of Vandersloot’s play. Vandersoot scored 26 points on 11-16 shooting. Add to this, she also had 13 assists meaning she hand a direct hand in more than 50 percent of the Sky’s points. Vandersloot also had seven rebounds which was a game high. It was not all a one woman show however, Tamera Young had 18 points while holding Maya Moore to eight points on the night.
In the second game with Pondexter out, the Sky beat the Dallas Wings. Vandersloot had 11 points on 5-9 shooting. To go with this, she handed out 12 assists meaning she had a direct hand in more than one third of Chicago’s points. Allie Quigley benefited greatly from Vandersloot play, scoring 22 points. Jessica Breland collected 12 points and 12 rebounds while Dolson also scored 12 points.
The third game in the best series of the Sky’s season was against the New York Liberty and again Vandersloot was the catalyst for the win. She only scored 13 points on 5-10 shooting. She handed out nine assists, which when paired with Quigley’s eight means the starting back court had 17 of the Sky’s 24 assists. Stefanie Dolson was the main benefactor of the generous Sky back court scoring 23 points on 10-14 shooting.
The only loss in the four games was the most recent where the game went into double overtime. Vandersloot had another double double with 10 points and 10 assists. Again the points were shared around well with Breland scored 23 points, Dolson had 26 points and 10 rebounds while Quigley had 22 points.
I have often looked at Vandersloot playing as a stream going down a hill. She can be stopped but it takes a bit to do it. Since being handed the keys to the franchise, Vanersloot has become a river flowing down hill. Every time you put a block in front of the water course, the flow changes direction.
Vandersloot is showing the benefits of having a pass first mentality being backed up by a really good jump shot. In the four games Vandersloot has averaged 15 points, 11 assists, 5.25 rebounds and 2.25 steals per game.
Her shot selection has been nothing short of sensational. Vandersloot has a slash line of 53/24/66. Yes her three point shooting is poor but a field goal percentage of 53 is incredible.
When Pondexter comes back, it will be hard for Coach Stokes to replace Vandersloot in the lineup. It will be an amazing opportunity for the Sky to have the fourth leading scorer in WNBA history coming off the bench. The Sky have something to build on, based on the incredible play of Vandersloot.