Will it be sweet home Chicago for Diamond DeShields next season?
DeShields is keenly aware of the potential she has yet to fully reach; for her, it’s not a matter of if she’ll return to her 2019 form but when.
Diamond DeShields does not lack confidence.
Whether it’s her style choices or how she carries herself in a room or on the basketball court, DeShields drips confidence, leaving a trail of it in her wake.
She comes from a family of professional athletes, so it’s easy to see where that confidence comes from. Her father, Delino DeShields, played major-league baseball for 13 years and is currently the Reds’ first-base coach. Delino DeShields Jr., Diamond’s older brother, is also a baseball player, just finishing the season, his seventh, with the Reds.
Growing up, competition was part of the family dynamic, and after helping the Sky to their first-ever WNBA title, Diamond has everyone beat.
“She’s the only pro champion in the family,” DeShields Sr. said after the Sky’s Game 4 victory against the Phoenix Mercury. “She has dibs on us right now.”
The 2021 season wasn’t smooth sailing for the Sky or for DeShields in particular.
After leaving the WNBA bubble due to personal reasons, she returned to the court and was met with the expectations of matching her performance in her All-Star season of 2019. Instead, she struggled to be a consistent offensive threat and was replaced by Allie Quigley in the starting lineup halfway through the season.
DeShields finished 2021 averaging 11.3 points, the third-lowest mark in her four seasons. At times this year, her head hung after missed looks. She looked disappointed in herself and even appeared to lack effort. Still, in speaking about herself, DeShields’ words always reflected confidence even if her body language didn’t.
She is keenly aware of the potential she has yet to fully reach; for her, it’s not a matter of if she’ll return to her 2019 form but when. Her goal as she heads overseas to play for Famila Wuber Schio in Italy is simple.
“I’m going overseas to get back to me,” DeShields said. “I’m capable of being so much more than I was this season, and I know that.”
DeShields didn’t characterize her experience of coming off the bench for the Sky as negative but rather challenging.
Before this year, she believed that there was little room for error for bench players. Now she understands the challenges of making the most with limited time on the court. This new perspective, she said, will make her a better teammate and leader moving forward in her young career.
DeShields becomes a restricted free agent in January and is one of the most intriguing free agents because of all the unknowns surrounding her and the Sky. Sky coach/general manager James Wade has four guaranteed contracts, including Candace Parker, in 2022.
He’ll be tasked with re-signing Kahleah Copper, Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley, who he said are all priorities to keep. Wade has expressed confidence in DeShields and her future. What he said he needs to see from her is consistency.
Wherever DeShields ends up playing in 2022, she’ll be re-establishing her value. For her, there’s only one place she wants that to be.
“I love the city of Chicago,” DeShields said. “This is where I want to be. You never know. It’s a business.”