Dana Evans is making a strong case for sixth woman of the year in her third season

In the last five games, Evans’ production has spiked. She’s averaging 14.4 points and 4.4 assists in 21 minutes

SHARE Dana Evans is making a strong case for sixth woman of the year in her third season
The Sky’s Dana Evans signals after her 3-point basket during a game against the Indiana Fever last month.

Chicago Sky’s Dana Evans signals after her 3-point basket during the second half of a WNBA basketball game against the Indiana Fever Thursday, June 15, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) ORG XMIT: ILCA115

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

LOS ANGELES — Dana Evans made it known after last season that she no longer wanted to be a bench player.

She expressed that sentiment to former coach/general manager James Wade in the Sky’s exit interviews. At that point, it was still unclear who would be on the Sky in 2023, but Evans made her desire clear: “I don’t want to be a cheerleader on the bench.”

This year, she has been anything but. She has been the Sky’s X-factor in a season that will come down to key moments such as her late-game steal and assist to Kahleah Copper for the go-ahead three in their victory against the Storm.

“I just try and force the coaches’ hand to keep me out there, make it hard for them to have to pull me out,” Evans said.

“Being a pest on defense. Bringing it on offense. My reads have gotten a lot better watching film and being able to come off that pick-and-roll and deciding if the corner is open, that pocket pass is there or getting to the basket.”

Coming into this season with a clear hole left by Courtney Vandersloot, it appeared that Evans would have a real opportunity to be the starting point guard. But when Wade signed Courtney Williams and then traded for Marina Mabrey, Evans once again was put in a position where she’d have to force her coach’s hand.

Unlike in previous years, playing behind arguably the league’s greatest facilitator in Vandersloot, Evans can’t be ignored. Take, for example, the Sky’s seven-point loss last week to the Aces.

Trailing by three with five minutes remaining, Evans was one of three players interim coach/GM Emre Vatansever subbed out in favor of his starting rotation. Mabrey was left to defend Chelsea Gray and ended up committing two critical late-game fouls that sent the Aces guard to the free-throw line. The second foul came in the final two minutes, with the Sky trailing by two.

In that situation, Evans has proven she belongs on the floor. When asked about Evans being taken out late and whether she would have been the better defensive option in that scenario, Vatansever said, “She could be.”

Ultimately though, he said it was the offensive side of the ball that led to his decision to go with the group he did.

“You can’t just make your judgment on one side of the floor,” Vatansever said. “You have to make your judgments for both, whichever is good for the team.”

Evans finished with eight points, four assists and two rebounds while Mabrey added 22 points, five rebounds, and three assists. So much of Evans’ impact against the Aces was in her disruption.

Evans’ growth this year has centered around her court vision and decision-making. There has been a clear shift in the third-year guard’s ability to find her teammates and create for herself, and it starts with her composure in high-pressure situations.

Rarely is Evans the player on the court with her head hung. More often than not, Evans is the one trying to reset the energy of her team — when needed — with the hustle plays that she has become known for.

In the last five games, Evans’ production has spiked. She’s averaging 14.4 points and 4.4 assists in 21 minutes.

“Sixth woman of the year,” Copper said. “Let’s just put that out there.”

The Latest
Leaders of the “One Future Illinois” PAC aim to “provide more balance in civic dialogue.” It includes business heavyweights who’ve held prominent positions in city and state government.
I enjoy the steps in trying a new urban waterway, almost as much as the fishing itself. Urban waterways are unique experiences that seem a space apart.
The acidity of the Champagne cuts through the fat and salt or the potatoes, while the fat and salt balances the acidity.
Curly? Steak? Waffle? Crinkle cut? There is cause for debate around which particular french fry is best.
Bowman returns to an official NHL post for the first time since 2021, when he resigned as Hawks GM during the sexual assault scandal.