DELLE DONNE OR DELLE FINISHED: CAN THE CHICAGO SKY WIN WITHOUT ELENA?

 

 

She didn’t want to stay. (I understand she wanted to be closer to family, but has she tried Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza? That’s enough to keep me in Chicago forever.) Delaware was calling to Elena Delle Donne, and she wanted to see how close she could get.

So she landed over 100 miles away in Washington, D.C.

For Delle Donne, it was a dream. But what about the team -- and the fans -- she left behind?

Elena’s heart wasn’t in Chicago, and she would have sat on the bench there until there was no option but to trade her. Perhaps cringing at the thought of another Sylvia Fowles-esque forced trade, the Sky shipped her off to our nation’s capital with the hope and prospect of something “big” in return.

“Big” meaning 6 feet 4 inches tall. Well, probably about 5 feet tall in a scooter.

With the second overall pick in the 2017 WNBA draft, the Chicago Sky selected center Alaina Coates out of South Carolina. When her name was announced, the camera panned to Coates, one leg propped up in a knee scooter, painfully grinning. I, too, would be grinning if I’d been a top two pick in the draft. But I, too, would have some pain behind my eyes if I knew there was no timetable for my return to basketball.

Coates, whose ankle injury prevented her from playing in the Gamecocks’ NCAA title chase, has made it abundantly clear she does not know when she will suit up for the Chicago Sky.

"I don't want to rush it," she told [Phil Thompson/Chicago Tribune]. "Whenever it's time to get back out there, I'm going to start slowly, do the basics."

It’s hard to score points from the bench. But Coates may not be the Sky’s only scoring obstacle.

Cappie Pondexter, once the crown jewel of Chicago scoring, dipped to 12.9 ppg in 2016 -- a career low for the veteran guard.

 Pondexter, 2016

Pondexter, 2016

And although the team never relied on Jamierra Faulkner for points, the Sky guard -- who was just heating up -- is no longer even an option. She’ll join Coates on the sidelines with an ACL tear.

Other question marks in the Sky’s roster include Keisha Hampton and Stefanie Dolson. Hampton can shoot, but she hasn’t had much time on the court to prove her skills. Meanwhile, 6’5” Dolson’s scoring potential in the Sky’s rotation remains to be seen.

 Dolson, Mystics 2016

Dolson, Mystics 2016

 

The women donning the powder blue Sky uniforms are big, no doubt. They will control the board, but until the squad’s scoring superstars reveal themselves, their potential for success in 2017 remains in question.

 

- Sara J Gottlieb, Wnbainsidr