Sky’s Kahleah Copper is setting new career marks since All-Star break

This year, Copper’s second act has been even more dominant. Through the Sky’s eight games since the All-Star break, Copper is averaging 24.4 points, and she scored a career-high 37 points against the Aces two weeks ago.

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Sky Kahleah Copper basketball game Seattle Storm

The Sky’s Kahleah Copper drives to the basket during a game against the Seattle Storm.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Kahleah Copper is tapping into another level.

Nobody should be surprised, either. She’s doing exactly what she promised.

“When I said I was going to another level, I was for real,” Copper said. “It’s not just talk for me.”

In Copper’s last three seasons with the Sky, the first half always served as the opening act to her main event. During the Sky’s championship run in 2021, Copper raised her scoring average by two points to close the regular season. In the playoffs, she added two more points to her average and was named Finals MVP.

Last year, she had a more pronounced increase, going from 13.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists in the first half of the regular season to 18.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists.

This year, Copper’s second act has been even more impressive. Through eight games since the All-Star break, Copper is averaging 24.4 points, and she scored a career-high 37 points against the Aces two weeks ago.

She has scored 20 or more points in the Sky’s last four games — the team went 3-1. The only thing that has changed is Copper’s sense of urgency.

“I really want to make it to the playoffs,” Copper said. “I want to win. Once you get a taste of winning, winning a championship and being a winner, that’s the feeling you chase. In order for us to even scratch the surface, I have to be that for us.”

This season, Copper began working one-on-one with player-development coach Jeff Pagliocca. In July, the team announced a coaching-staff update, and he was named the Sky’s director of skill development.

He told the Sun-Times in July that there was nothing he needed to change about her game. Instead, his task was to amplify skills she possessed but hadn’t needed to rely on.

Copper’s ability to get to the rim, for example, was hardly a secret. But now she’s dictating the game by slowing it down, assessing defenses and finding holes to exploit.

By improving her three-point accuracy, Copper has become a tougher matchup. She can still pick apart defenses by attacking the rim, but now opponents have to guard her closely at the three-point line. Copper is shooting 44.2% from deep through the first eight games of the second half.

“I know how hard it is to guard someone who can score at every level,” Copper said. “It’s not one thing that you can stop. The three was big for me because of how good I am at the rim. Now when you come out to guard me, I’m still getting to what I can get to.”

With 13 games left in the regular season for the Sky and a loose grip on the eighth and final playoff spot, their fifth consecutive playoff berth hinges on Copper’s ability to get them there. She knows it, too.

“It was important for me to approach this last stretch like I gave it everything I had,” Copper said.

“I’m just trying to get my team in a good position. As a leader, this is what I’m supposed to do.”

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