After the WNBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas, the Sky got their first week off during their five-week Olympic break.
Of course, the entire five weeks will not be spent relaxing. Sky coach and general manager James Wade will bring the team back to training on Monday. As the Sky prepare for a difficult second half of the season, now is a great time to reflect on the first half.
Filled with ups and downs in the franchise, the Sky’s 10-10 first half had no shortage of talking points. Here are the four biggest takeaways:
Health is wealth
The Sky spent much of the start of the season without two of their biggest stars as Candace Parker (ankle) and Allie Quigley (hamstring) picked up injuries after the season opener. Their absence – along with that of Stefanie Dolson, who was playing in Team USA’s 3×3 Qualifying Tournament – contributed to a seven-game losing streak. While there’s been a lot of talk about the impact Parker had on the team upon his return, not enough has been said about Quigley. Coming off the bench, Quigley is the team’s third-leading scorer with 12.1 points per game. With her and Parker on the floor, the Sky are 9-3.
The team opens the second half against the Storm on August 15, and they will meet twice more in August. The Sky also faced the Aces three times in September. If the Sky stay healthy, their depth can help them take on the top two teams in the league.
Consistency is their favorite word
Following Sky’s extra-time loss to the Mystics in their final game before the Olympic break, Wade said he needed more consistency from his team. He estimated going into the break that the sky should have been above 0.500, and he’s right. Their loss to the Mystics wasn’t the only game in which their inability to play with their possessions hurt them. Against the Mercury, they allowed Kia Nurse to hit a half-court buzzer-beater that earned them their fifth loss of the season. Practice will be key for Sky to further establish their ability to close games.
Get everyone involved
The Sky is not a team that is going to see a player go for 20 points night after night. Kahleah Copper is their leading scorer with 13.8 points per game. What makes the Sky special is how they share the ball. When one player is off, another can carry the load. The Sky bench has an average of 39.4 points against 58.4 for the starting five.
By comparison, Aces starters are averaging 67.1 points per game, while their bench is adding 29. The Storm’s five starters are averaging 62.4 and their bench is adding 25.2.
They go as their defense goes
Wade didn’t shy away from wanting to establish a defensive identity early in the season. Copper and Diamond DeShields talked about how he approached them both to be troublemakers on defense, and they were. The Sky are second in the league in opponents’ turnovers (17.3) and points allowed (79.4) and third in defensive rating (95.8). They also score 21.1% of their points on turnovers and are second in the league in points on fast breaks. They held their opponents to under 90 points in all but three games. Containing the Aces and Storm, who rank 1-2 in the WNBA in scoring, will be the biggest test of the second half schedule.