Leading up to and during the WNBA Draft, analysts suggested that the Chicago Sky needed frontcourt help to complement center Sylvia Fowles.
Instead, the Sky opted to select one of the best NCAA point guard draft prospects ever and found that frontcourt help today by trading guard Jia Perkins to the San Antonio Silver Stars in exchange for Michelle Snow. The Sky followed that up by re-signing guard Erin Thorn, who shot 42% from the 3-point line last season. And new Sky coach/general manager Pokey Chatman appears to be off to a pretty good start, both in terms of collecting talent to build upon strengths while addressing an obvious need (frontcourt depth).
Snow, at the very least, gives the Sky another veteran body in the post who can defend and rebound as one of the top defensive rebounders in the league by percentage last season. Perhaps more importantly is she gives the Sky another post player who can score efficiently inside.
However, looking more closely at this deal, it's also not exactly clear how these moves will translate into wins.
Click here for a look at their team needs and what they gained from the draft.
Who they lose: Jia Perkins
What they lose: Perkins single-handedly kept the Sky in games - and even carried them to victory - on more than one occasion. You can't replace that kind of heart. And as one of the least turnover prone players in the league, losing Perkins is a blow to their ability to handle the ball. Jia Perkins was also the Sky's second leading three point shooter (34.9%) and shot a team-high 109 attempts, which is significant for a team that was only an average three point shooting team that plays best when they're knocking down shots to spread the court for a rather dominant post player.
Who they add: Michelle Snow
What they gain: Snow had a true shooting percentage of 60.7%, which was 6th in the league last season, which actually fills one of the Sky lesser acknowledged weaknesses: they had a negative shooting efficiency differential and the lowest points per possession in the Eastern Conference (98.89). So having someone else capable of scoring efficiently is huge for them. Snow also adds a defensive rebounder to help limit opponents' offensive rebounding and second-chance scoring opportunities, where they were fourth in the conference allowing 11.59 second chance points per game (although that was fifth in the league).
The question about this move is obviously about their post rotation: with Fowles as the starter at center and drafting two centers, where does Snow fit? The first thought is obviously that they could play Snow at power forward, which isn't unfathomable. However, this might also signal that they see one Amy Jaeschke or Carolyn Swords as capable of playing some minutes at power forward - both are capable shooters and could complement Fowles nicely as players with touch out to the wing. That still leaves a question about defensive schemes, but they do have combinations to work with on the interior - they couldn't have said that with their pre-draft roster.
San Antonio Silver Stars
Who they lose: Michelle Snow
What they lose: The Silver Stars most glaring statistical weakness last season was their offensive rebounding percentage differential (-4.69%) and that's part of why they allowed the third-most second chance points in the league (12.71 per game) and scored the least themselves (9.82 per game). Snow was not an outstanding offensive rebounder, but losing her defensive rebounding presence won't help this situation.
But it's also worth pointing our that Jayne Appel, Crystal Kelly, and Ruth Riley all sat out significant time last season, which unquestionably hurt their rebounding situation. When they were healthy, Kelly and Riley both had career-low offensive rebounding percentage seasons and although Appel was a solid rebounder, she also had an extended rookie year adjustment after missing training camp due to injury. So it's plausible that they get better as a rebounding team just from having their rebounders healthy and having a more experienced Appel.
Who they add: Jia Perkins
What they gain: Neither Tully Bevilaqua nor Becky Hammon are particularly big, which gave them a small backcourt defensively and making Hammon really the only player who could get her own shot on the perimeter. Perkins is a player who can distribute the ball, score, and defend continuing to bolster the Silver Stars' guard rotation along with drafting Danielle Robinson. That makes San Antonio's offense a lot more dynamic, even if Perkins is a less efficient scorer than Wade - it means that they could play Hammon and Perkins together, alternate ball handling duties and be a lot less predictable offensively. For all the talk about "replacing" Vickie Johnson's presence on the court, having a veteran guard who can defend and pass is a huge step in the right direction.
The Silver Stars continued to be among the highest synergy teams in the league last season, even without departed players like Johnson or Ann Wauters who helped facilitate scoring opportunities for Hammon and Sophia Young. With Perkins and a healthy Appel - who was a very good college passing post - they are a lot closer to that type of fluid offense that was lacking at times last season. This is not at all to say that the Silver Stars will be as good as that 2008 WNBA Finals team, but there's a good chance that they'll be a higher performing team overall.
As for the rebounding situation, this trade also opens up a stronger possibility of a strong college rebounder like second-round draft pick Danielle Adams or Shanavia Dowdell (who they signed to a training camp contract) to make the roster and further bolster their rebounding situation. Similar to the Sky, the Silver Stars have options for how to fill in their holes that could pan out. So the question now is what choices they make with an 11-player roster.