After not only capturing their first WNBA title last October but also capturing hearts in the process, the Chicago Sky have high expectations going into this upcoming season.
Some of the core group that brought home the title is returning include Finals MVP Kahleah Copper, the dynamic duo of Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley, and the legend herself Candace Parker.
The Sky are setting their sights on coming out of the gates storming and are looking to improve on their previous regular season record of 16-16, which included a seven-game losing streak during which many of the key talent was injured. Now, with fresh legs and a renewed sense of purpose, the Sky are poised to set the tone from the get-go and to replicate their prowess from last year’s postseason.
During the offseason, Chicago did make some changes that altered its lineup. All-Star Diamond DeShields was traded to the Phoenix Mercury in a three-way deal that brought point guard Julie Allemand to the Sky. Allemand sat out 2021 to play overseas; she will back up Vandersloot. Center and Olympic gold medalist Stefanie Dolson signed with the New York Liberty in free agency and to replace her the Sky got 2019 Finals MVP Emma Meesseman, who has a proven track record of putting up some solid numbers at both ends of the floor.
With the starting five now projected and the entire roster finalized, the sky is certainly the limit for the defending champions.
On a broader level, they are entering in the WNBA’s 26th season and it couldn’t have come at a better time in which the growth of women’s basketball is matching the overall growth of women’s sports. The Sky certainly were a catalyst for that given their memorable run to the title.
It also helps to have a relatable, beloved, and consequential star in Candace Parker who will be entering her 15th season and has a solidified legend status that transcends the league itself, plus an army of accolades to fall back on.
She reflected on her first media day when she was with the Los Angeles Sparks with the goal of helping to grow the sport and continuing the legacy put forward by those who came before.
“I think about Cynthia Cooper, having the opportunity to play with Tina Thompson, Lisa Leslie, the list goes on and they left it better when they left.” she said. “That is my generation’s job and I hope we have done that.”
Parker also spoke of Sylvia Fowles of the Minnesota Linx, who will be retiring at the end of this year after 14 seasons. Parker has competed against Fowles in college and the pros and talked about the impact Fowles has had on the sport.
It is without question that Parker has already put her name into that class of icons and this year she is poised to give us more. She will have a top tier team behind her to make it happen potentially for the second time in a row.
Chicago will tip of its season opener at home against the Sparks on Friday at 8 p.m. ET.