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Odd coaching change, franchise player traded, Sky have questions

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For the first time in five seasons, the Chicago Sky start a WNBA season without a “franchise” player. Can the newcomers keep the “Sky” from falling?

Chris Posh - Swish Appeal

And the brand new face of the Chicago Sky is...

Cappie Pondexter? Courtney Vandersloot? Or is it Stefanie Dolson?

This is one of many questions that face the Chicago Sky going into the 2017 WNBA season. The offseason left them with many more questions than answers after a 2016 that saw them reach the semifinals of the WNBA Playoffs.

Let’s see if we can answer some of those questions in this preview.

WHO WILL BE THE SHOULDER TO LEAN ON?

Shortly after the 2016 season ended, longtime head coach and general manager Pokey Chatman was fired, a surprise considering she had led the Sky to their first-ever playoff appearance in 2013, and had been to the playoffs the last four years in a row.

Not long after that, franchise star (and 2015 MVP) Elena Delle Donne threatened to sit out the 2017 season, stating a desire to remain closer to home. This led to the Sky pulling off a mega deal with her hometown Washington Mystics, receiving Stefanie Dolson, Kahleah Copper, and the second overall pick (Alaina Coates) in this year’s draft.

As an end result, the Sky find themselves with eight new faces, plus a new head coach in Amber Stocks, who recently worked with the 2016 WNBA champion Los Angeles Sparks.

WHO WILL BE THE GO-TO SCORER?

With their leading scorer and three-point shooter gone, the leading returning scorer from last season is Cappie Pondexter, who averaged 12.9 points per game in 2016. The 12-year veteran will be expected to be their primary shooter, but Chicago fans need not worry, there are plenty of options.

Imani Boyette, Jessica Breland and Dolson are capable of providing solid scoring in the post. Copper, the second-year guard, shot a blistering 46.7 percent from downtown last season, which would have led the team. And the longtime backcourt duo of Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot are always threats to get to the free throw line, with both averaging 90 percent from the charity stripe last season.

HOW WILL THE NEW FACES ADJUST?

It’s more than logical to think that most of the newcomers will see some significant playing time this season. Rookie Tori Jankoska has shown flashes of greatness during the preseason, and Keisha Hampton (acquired from Minnesota) has been a solid presence thus far. Alaina Coates, their top draft pick, will most likely join the team before the All-Star break (she suffered an ankle injury in March while playing for South Carolina).

Considering how far the Sky have come in the last four years, it would be a shame if the team weren’t able to build upon that. However, with the talent and experience that Chicago possesses, don’t be surprised if another deep playoff run is in the cards.