After the WNBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas, the Sky had their first week off during their five-week Olympic break.
Of course, the entire five weeks won’t be spent relaxing. Sky coach and general manager James Wade will have the team back at practice Monday. As the Sky prepare for a challenging second half of the season, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the first half.
Filled with franchise highs and lows, the Sky’s 10-10 first half left no shortage of talking points. Here are the four biggest takeaways:
Health is wealth
The Sky spent much of the early part of the season without two of their biggest stars as Candace Parker (ankle) and Allie Quigley (hamstring) went down with injuries after the season opener. Their absence — along with that of Stefanie Dolson, who was playing in Team USA’s 3x3 qualifying tournament — contributed to a seven-game losing streak. While there has been a lot of discussion about the impact Parker had on the team upon her 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 Aug. 15, and they’ll meet two more times in August. The Sky also face the Aces three times in September. If the Sky stay healthy, their depth can help them contend with the league’s top two teams.
Consistency is their favorite word
After the Sky’s overtime loss to the Mystics in their final game before the Olympic break, Wade said he needed more consistency from his team. He felt going into the break that the Sky should have been above .500, and he’s right. Their loss to the Mystics wasn’t the only game in which their inability to play through possessions hurt them. Against the Mercury, they allowed Kia Nurse to hit a half-court buzzer-beater that handed them their fifth loss of the season. Practice will be key for the Sky in further establishing their ability to close out games.
Getting everybody involved
The Sky aren’t a team that’s going to have one player go off for 20 points night after night. Kahleah Copper is their leading scorer at 13.8 points per game. What makes the Sky special is the way they share the ball. When one player is off, another one can carry the load. The Sky’s bench is averaging 39.4 points to the starting five’s 58.4.
In comparison, the Aces’ starters average 67.1 points per game, while their bench adds 29. The Storm’s starting five averages 62.4, and their bench adds 25.2.
They go as their defense goes
Wade wasn’t shy about his desire to establish a defensive identity at the start of the season. Copper and Diamond DeShields spoke about how he tapped both of them to be disrupters on the defense, and they have been. 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 are scoring 21.1% of their points off of turnovers and are second in the league in points off of fast breaks. They’ve 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.