The WNBA announced Monday that Chicago Sky general manager James Wade has been named 2022 Executive of the Year after signing big-name free agent Emma Meesseman and 32-year-old rookie revelation Rebekah Gardner, both of whom played key roles in the team’s 26-10 regular-season run toward a tie for first place. Wade, who is also the Sky’s head coach, also traded for Julie Allemand, who hasn’t had quite the season she had in the wubble, but has averaged a solid 3.4 assists per game as a solid back-up point guard to Courtney Vandersloot.
Meesseman was an All-Star this year and finished the season averaging 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.4 steals per game. She was third in the league with a field goal percentage of 57.1 and is in the running for All-Defensive Team recognition. Her addition gave the team a fourth star to support Candace Parker, Vandersloot and Kahleah Copper and helped the defending champions drastically improve on their 2021 regular season record (16-16).
Gardner proved to be extremely valuable as well. Scouted by Wade this past winter while playing for Spar Girona in EuroLeague Women, Gardner made her WNBA debut 10 years after going undrafted out of UCLA. She averaged 8.4 points and 1.4 steals in 21.7 minutes, led WNBA guards in field goal percentage (54.2) and is in the running for All-Rookie and All-Defensive Team recognition. Chelsea Gray of the Las Vegas Aces had the next-highest field goal percentage among guards at 49.1 percent.
Wade gave up Diamond DeShields (to the Phoenix Mercury), the No. 7 pick in the 2022 draft (to the Indiana Fever) and the Sky's first round pick for 2023 (to the Fever) to get Allemand and Phoenix’s 2023 first round pick, which we now know will be No. 5. Allemand has star potential. Although she averaged just three points in 16.1 minutes this year, she averaged 8.5 points and 5.8 assists in 32.5 minutes as a 2020 rookie. That year she was second in the league with a 3-point percentage of 47.8 and made 44 treys (two per game in a shortened season).
Wade, who wins this award for the first time, also re-signed Vandersloot, Copper and Allie Quigley this offseason. Vandersloot (11.8 points and 6.5 assists per game) and Copper (15.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game) were All-Stars and Quigley led the team with 50 made threes.