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Season In Review: Chicago Sky

As the end of 2021 draws near, WNBA.com is wrapping up the 25th season by recapping each team’s season. Take a look back at notable contributors and season highlights with the 2021 Season In Review. Next up is the Chicago Sky.

Overview:

The Chicago Sky had a fairytale season like no other. However, it wasn’t magical all the time for the Sky, as they were on a rocky roller coaster for most of the season. The Sky made a big move during free agency by signing 2x WNBA MVP, Candace Parker. It appeared the Sky had found the missing puzzle piece to add to their returning veteran core to compete for a championship. However, the pieces didn’t connect as quickly as hoped as the Sky hit a low early in the season, dropping seven straight games, and dealt with injuries. Then they hit some highs, from seven-straight wins to leading the league in assists. But the up and downs of the regular season resulted in a 16-16 record for the Sky.

The Sky headed into the Playoffs as underdogs, seeded at No.6. However, each round as the Sky prevailed, it became apparent that the pieces connected at the perfect time.

“I think, thank God, first game of the Playoffs in Dallas, we found who we were, and it was by the leadership of our coaches and each other just really buying into our defense and this new way that we all wanted to play, and we believed in.” said Allie Quigley on the team meshing at the perfect time.

After defeating the Dallas Wings and Minnesota Lynx in single-elimination games, the Sky clicking at the right time paid off as they took down the No.1 seed, the Connecticut Sun in Game 4 of the Semifinals. Chicago advanced to the WNBA Finals for the first time since 2014.

In 2014, the Chicago Sky faced the Phoenix Mercury, where they were swept 3-0. In this year’s rematch, the Sky lacked Finals experience compared to the Mercury. However, Parker’s elite defense and court leadership, Quigley’s instant offense, Courtney Vandersloot’s ability to be an elite floor general, and Kahleah Copper’s shot-making ability made them unstoppable regardless of their Finals experience.

This core’s chemistry made the difference in the Finals, as they fought back from an 14-point deficit in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals to defeat the Phoenix Mercury, 3-1. As a result, the Chicago Sky got the fairytale ending they had dreamed of, winning the franchise’s first championship title and becoming the only WNBA team ever to win the chip as the No.6 seed.

This off-season there will be plenty of decisions for Head Coach and General Manager James Wade to make as many of the core players are free agents, but if he can bring back the core members another championship might be in the future for Sky Town.

Top Contributors:

Candace Parker

Parker made one of the biggest free agents moves in league history, leaving the Los Angeles Sparks after 13 seasons with the goal of winning a championship in her hometown. The hometown hero did just that. In the Playoffs, the now two-time Champion averaged 13.3 PPG, & 8.4 RPG, including clutch shots, gritty defense, and pep talks which were essential to the Sky’s success. It was the picture-perfect ending for the living legend.

Kahleah Copper

Coming off a breakout season in 2020, the sixth-year guard carried that momentum into this season. The forward, known for her quickness, athleticism, and ability to finish around the rim, led her team in points per game in the regular season with 14.4. But it was the Playoffs where the two-way player’s talents really shined. Kahleah was the difference-maker for the Chicago Sky during the Playoffs, including a Playoff career-high 26 points on 9-14 shooting against the Sun in the Semifinals. In the Finals, she continued to be the IT factor for her team averaging 17.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 52.6 FGM%. Copper was awarded Finals MVP for her efforts. She showed everyone why her nickname is Kahleah “Freaking” Copper aka KFC.

Courtney Vandersloot

Courtney Vandersloot returned to the Sky this season showing everyone why she is one of the league’s premier point guards. She continued to drop cold dimes in the regular season, leading the league in assists for the fifth consecutive year with 8.4 and moved into fourth place on the league’s all-time list for total assists (2,180). In addition, she strengthened her game on the defensive end, averaging a career-high 1.69 steals (third in the WNBA), and was an All-WNBA honoree for the fourth consecutive season. Her ability to make big plays, control the tempo and elite passing skills were on full display in the Playoffs. On September 28th in Game 1 of the Sky’s Semifinals series, Vandersloot recorded only the second triple-double in WNBA Playoffs history, including a playoff record of 18 assists, which also matched her single-game record. Sloot’s ability to be an elite floor general was on full display during the Finals series as she was directly involved in 46.4% of Chicago’s total offense.

Season Highlights:

Sky Win 2021 Championship 

On October 17th, the Chicago Sky rallied together to overcome a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat the Phoenix Mercury, 80-74 in Game 4 of the Finals, and bring home the franchise’s first championship win. (The Sky’s Championship win was also the Windy City’s first basketball championship in the last 20 years.) The Sky’s Game 4 performance was propelled by Joliet, IL native, Allie Quigley’s 26 points on 64.3% (9-14) shooting from the field.

Kahleah Copper Named Finals MVP

On October 17th, Kahleah Copper was named Finals MVP after averaging 17.0 points and 5.5 rebounds throughout the Finals.

Seven-Game Win Streak (Franchise Record)

After dropping seven games in a row, the Chicago Sky responded by winning seven straight games, a franchise record.