The Sky haven’t been shy about expressing their praise for two-time WNBA most valuable player Candace Parker and what she brings to the team every time she steps on the court.
On Monday, during her first training-camp media availability with her hometown team, Parker shared what has impressed her about the Sky.
One word sums it up: communication.
‘‘Everything that is expected of me and this team is communicated well,’’ Parker said. ‘‘That’s sometimes the thing that takes the longest, and it seems like we’re right there.’’
Parker has been balancing two careers, one as a player and another as an analyst on Turner Sports’ NBA team. That has included broadcasts that end at 1 a.m., followed by 9 a.m. workouts. Her key has been taking things day by day.
Parker works with Turner through the NBA’s regular season, so that juggling act will end next week.
In the Sky’s second week of training camp, coach and general manager James Wade said the focus remains on developing chemistry, implementing new systems and establishing a stronger defensive mindset.
Preseason games against the Fever on Sunday and May 11 will serve as an evaluation of younger players because the Sky still will be without most of their backcourt. Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley are in the Chicago area but must produce six negative COVID-19 tests before they can undergo physicals and begin training with the team. Rookie Shyla Heal is still not in the area.
Developing a rotation isn’t possible without the entire team, but Wade said Parker and fellow forward Diamond DeShields complement each other well. DeShields’ cutting ability, talent for scoring in transition and aptitude for drawing defenders to her combined with Parker’s passing on the move, ballhandling in transition and perimeter shooting can be a lethal combination offensively.
On paper, Parker said she and DeShields can be unbelievable together. But Parker said not enough people pay attention to DeShields’ defensive skills. That’s where she thinks the duo truly can disrupt opponents.
Parker likened playing with DeShields to her chemistry with former Sparks teammate Kristi Toliver.
‘‘Our pick-and-roll play, how [Toliver] could handle and shoot and her high IQ [is similar to DeShields],’’ Parker said. ‘‘I think in terms of the impact from paper to actually doing it could be the same with me and Diamond.’’
If that comparison indicates what this Sky team can accomplish, WNBA championship expectations aren’t far-fetched.
DeShields said she’s feeling great after leaving the WNBA bubble early last season for personal reasons. She said she spent almost every day of the offseason working out, be it cross-training, boxing or working with different basketball trainers.
She said her goals now are to stay consistent and to keep focused on a singular accomplishment.
‘‘There’s only one thing that I want to accomplish, and that’s to be holding the trophy at the end of the season,’’ DeShields said.