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2019 WNBA Draft Analysis: Chicago Sky adds offensive weapons

In the 2019 WNBA Draft, the Chicago Sky added both a vertical game, with Katie Lou Samuelson, and firepower, with Chloe Jackson.

UConn v Notre Dame
The Chicago Sky selected UConn Huskies guard Katie Lou Samuelson at No. 4 overall in the 2019 WNBA Draft on Wednesday, April 10, 2019.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The sky’s the limit for Katie Lou Samuelson and Chloe Jackson, two very different college players who, come May, will train alongside each other in the refurbished WNBA.

Samuelson, who the Chicago Sky selected fourth overall in the 2019 WNBA Draft, was initially projected to go later in the first round. Meanwhile, Jackson, Baylor’s caped crusader in the final moments of the 2019 NCAA Tournament, waited until the early second round to hear her name called up to the stage by the same organization.

Once a Florida State Seminole, Maria Conde, was Chicago Sky’s final pick in the final round of the draft. A member of the Spanish national team, Conde will join a young cast of starting forwards that features Gabby Williams (23 years old) and Cheyenne Parker (27 years old).

There are even more new kids on the block in the Sky organization, with a renovated coaching staff headlined by James Wade, Amber Stocks’ relief pitcher. The decision came after Stocks failed to rally her team in two seasons which, altogether, was capped off by a 36.7 winning percentage.

In addition to falling 13 games behind the 2018 WNBA champion Seattle Storm, woes continued for the Chicago Sky. Not only did they split their last 10 games, but the bruises from the 2018 season were ongoing. Out of 34 games, the Sky were sucked into a losing streak’s black hole not once, not twice, but four times, when it came to losing at least three consecutive games.

What does Katie Lou Samuelson bring to Chicago?

Three-point shooting is evolving in the women’s game and the pace is similar to how the run-pass option is becoming the norm in pro football.

For Katie Lou Samuelson, there’s no place like home when taking long-range shots.

In her senior season at UConn, Samuelson made over five threes in seven separate games. At the end of her Bleed Blue career, she finished second all-time in the school’s three-point field goals made (382), which gave her a comfortable lead over Diana’s Taurasi’s 318 effort. As Samuelson also tries to become a better playmaker in assists, her trey game will be countered with one of the WNBA’s best: Allie Quigley’s.

One thing Samuelson could address in the start of her professional career, though, is fighting for rebounds, especially under the basket. Most of the time, despite being 6-foot-3, she was either mismatched or couldn’t find her footing when boxing out.

What does Chloe Jackson bring to Chicago?

She doesn’t have the same craving for threes as Samuelson, but Chloe Jackson has always been an interior contributor — a trait that dates back to her LSU days. During her senior season, for example, Jackson scored 20-plus points in 11 separate games for the Tigers. She wasn’t as flashy in the assists department, but that part of her game drastically improved with Baylor as a fifth-year starter: She finished with 203 assists.

Courtney Vandersloot (league-leading 258 assists in 2018) is the lone ranger in ball distribution on the team. With a mentor like that, adding a playmaker like Jackson into the mix could help penetrate and wear out a lot of defenses. Not only does she have high basketball intelligence, but her confidence in charging the basket could make her WNBA rookie season rival Diana Taurasi’s 2018 season (202 field goals made, 44.6 percent field-goal percentage).

Though they come from different playgrounds, Katie Lou Samuelson and Chloe Jackson can bring a lot of attention to Allstate Arena. Though the Sky finished 10th in the rankings in 2018, they pulled off one of the league’s better offenses, in line with Phoenix and Atlanta.

But last year’s woes are a distant memory. James Wade has retained the talents of veterans Vandersloot and Quigley, but the on-boarding of his incoming players will be just as important for his Sky team. Player development coach Emre Vatansever will have the responsibility this preseason of sculpting Samuelson, Jackson and Maria Conde before their 2019 season opener against Wade’s former employer: the Minnesota Lynx.