Sky’s Diamond DeShields hungry for more: ‘I want to be one of the best to ever play this game’

DeShields scored 17 of her 19 points in the second half, but the Sky’s four-game winning streak ended with a loss to the Fever.

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Diamond DeShields doesn’t know what it means to be content.

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After Diamond DeShields scored only two points in the first half of the Sky’s game Friday against the Fever, coach James Wade challenged her to step up.

As a result, DeShields started playing better in the third quarter and dominated the fourth. She scored 11 of her team-high 19 points ln the last 10 minutes.

‘‘I was just trying to answer the call,’’ DeShields said after the Sky’s 76-69 loss at Wintrust Arena. ‘‘I was just trying to show him that, you know, I’m able to respond when he needs me to and be aggressive.’’

DeShields, 24, has lofty expectations for herself this season. An All-Star bid and helping the Sky (5-3) reach the playoffs for the first time since 2016 are two things at the top of the list. She won’t settle for anything less than being the best.

‘‘I want to be great,’’ DeShields said. ‘‘I know I want to be one of the best to ever play this game. So with that, you have to believe you have a really high upside, and I believe that I’m the best right now. So I’m just playing into that.’’

DeShields, who is arguably the best all-around athlete in the WNBA, is so confident in her ability that she sounds like a grizzled veteran rather than a second-year player.

And she doesn’t just talk the talk. DeShields is an excellent ballhandler and has an extremely high basketball IQ. She’s a tenacious rebounder and a strong shooter, too.

Still, she acknowledges there’s plenty of room for her to grow.

It hasn’t been easy sailing for DeShields this season. She often has been double-teamed by opponents, as she was Friday. But even with the extra defensive attention, DeShields has found ways to be productive on offense and disruptive on defense.

In eight games, DeShields has scored 20 or more points three times and 10 or more five times.

Wade said he has been impressed with DeShields this season, but there’s more work to be done, he said.

‘‘What we have to find is where she’s having those big nights every night,’’ Wade said. ‘‘And we think she can. The thing is, people are loading up on her and they’re concentrated on stopping her, and I don’t think that was the case last year. . . . 

‘‘She has to find ways — and we have to find ways — for her to exploit defenses without her having to have the ball so much in her hands. And that’s what we’ve been trying to do.’’

The Sky have no time to sulk about their loss, which ended a four-game winning streak. They have the red-hot Sun (9-1), who have won seven consecutive games, coming to town Sunday.

Asked how the team will move on, DeShields said: ‘‘You just do it. We can’t dwell on this. If we do that, we’re already defeated, in my eyes. That’s a good team coming in. You’ve got to move on.’’

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