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2014 WNBA Playoffs preview: Chicago Sky are the wild card

After a season filled with injuries and health problems, the Chicago Sky are finally healthy at exactly the right time. Given that we don't know what they can do at full strength, they're one of the most intriguing teams in this year's postseason.

Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE

The 2014 version of the Chicago Sky is the epitome of a wildcard in the playoffs. You can't take much from the team's numbers, record or even it's performances this season as the Sky only had it's full roster available for 4 games this season, three of those being the last three games of the season.

Strengths: Frontcourt depth

This team has bought into Pokey Chatman's philosophy and they play hard for each other every night. The strength of this team lies in it's post rotation. Even with Sylvia Fowles out to start the season, the likes of Elena Delle Donne, Jessica Breland, Sasha Goodlett, and in spots Markisha Gatling did a fantastic job of holding down the fort. This team finished second in the league in blocks per game and also grabbed the most offensive rebounds (although they didn't rank highly by percentage). The Sky also finished second in the league in pace, which could prove critical in the postseason as the game tends to slow down and become more of a half-court battle.

Weaknesses: Ball control anyone?

The Sky were one of the worst teams in the league this season in terms of taking care of the ball. All those extra possessions they may have in theory mean nothing if you can't hold on to the ball. A lot of my issues with the Sky have to do with their inability to get Sylvia Fowles the ball and these two issues go hand-in-hand. A significant number of the Sky's turnovers are trying to force the ball to Fowles. From telegraphed passes to passes thrown in traffic, this team is seemingly more creative in turning the ball over than scoring it.

MVP: Elena Delle Donne

The second year guard/forward continued to dazzle in the few games we saw her take part in. She averaged 17.9 points and took fantastic care of the ball for the Sky, who went 10-6 with her in the lineup (5-13 without). She's always a great perimeter shooter who also shoots an elite free throw percentage that allows for a release valve in the Sky offense. She's also a proven ball handler that finished second in player effiency rating. Needless to say, things are a lot easier for the Chicago Sky when EDD is apart of the game.

X-Factor: Courtney Vandersloot

Sloot's return for the Sky is just as big a deal as EDD's. She is the best that keeps the music flowing and she is the leader of the attack. Jameirra Faulkner has had some great moments this season but she's still a WNBA rookie from a non-Big 6 conference. Sloot becomes the primary ball handler for this team and is probably the best option, in tandem with the high post looks from Breland, to getting Big Syl clean looks at the rim. If she can return to form without any limitations from her injury, this team could still accomplish it's early season goals of reaching the WNBA Finals

Outlook

If the Sky want to have a realistic shot at advancing, they have to take better care of the ball. In addition, Sylvia Fowles has got to take at least 10 shots a night. The franchise's first true superstar has to bring it every night for this team to have a chance. Delle Donne is going to continue working her way back from the reoccurrence of Lyme Disease and Epiphanny Prince just finished her 2nd worst shooting season by percentage as well as her worst 3pt shooting percentage season.

This is one of the most talented team's in the league when healthy and they were expected to be in that upper echelon with Phoenix, Minnesota and Atlanta this season. Instead, they're looking the top seed directly between it's eyes with rounds 2 and 3 guaranteed road series, if they advance. Just a few years ago, Atlanta was able to get to the WNBA Finals as a 4 seed but this Chicago team went 6-11 on the road this season so it will be an interesting development if they can steal a game on their opponent's floor.