If you are a fan of the Chicago Sky or a fan of the WNBA, you may have noticed that Diamond DeShields is Kahleah Copper’s biggest fan.
Two years ago, DeShields was the third star on the Sky along with Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley and led the team with 16.2 points per game. She was 24 years old and on the rise. She displayed offensive versatility from the wing and her athleticism and explosiveness made her appear to be a superstar in the making.
2020 was not kind to DeShields though. Because of injuries, she played far less minutes per game and then left the wubble early for personal reasons. What had seemed like a promising young career was suddenly surrounded by uncertainty. What role would she play for the Sky in 2021?
Taking DeShield’s place as the team’s third star in 2020 was Copper, who raised her scoring average by 8.2 to 14.9, started every game and averaged 31.3 minutes per contest. Copper and DeShields are the same height and are both quick, athletic wings who prefer to get out in transition or slash but can also hit the three.
In 2021, DeShields has done nothing but celebrate the similarities between her and Copper and embraced the idea of them being a lethal wing duo while playing together. And she’s kept that attitude while playing a lesser role than Copper all season long.
The numbers from the regular season aren’t that far off: Copper averaged 14.4 points to DeShields’ 11.3 and played just 3.9 more minutes per game. But she made the All-Star Game while DeShields has been a bit of an afterthought in conversations about the star core of the Sky, which now also features Candace Parker. DeShields, with all of her talent, has almost been seen as a role player, at least for this season.
DeShields moved from the starting lineup to the bench on Aug. 21 and hasn't started since. In the playoffs, she has played over 20 minutes just once (Game 5 against the Sun) and has scored in double-digits just once (14 in the second round against the Lynx). In Game 1 of the Finals, she played just 11 minutes and 20 seconds and didn’t even score. Yet, I write about her today and for good reason.
As her 14-point performance against the Lynx shows, she can be a dangerous weapon at any moment for the Sky in the Finals. She still has all the tools to be a superstar player and when you add her to Parker, Vandersloot, Copper and Quigley, you understand why they call Chicago a superteam.
DeShields is capable of going off for much more than 14 points, but even if she doesn’t play a big role in these Finals, it’s worth noting the sacrifices she has made while the Sky have been on their postseason tear. She hasn’t complained about not getting the ball and continues to cheer on Copper, who is averaging 18.6 points in the playoffs and led the way in Game 1 of the Finals with 21 and 10 rebounds.
Copper is just as excited about playing with DeShields as DeShields is about playing with Copper and the pair have been fun to watch together. Copper knows how good DeShields is and if the Sky fall into a scoring lull at some point in the Finals, don’t be surprised to see Copper and Vandersloot look to get DeShields involved. It's just that right now things are running so smoothly and Chicago hasn’t gone away from the hot hands. So for now, DeShields is lurking on the Sky bench.