Even after missing playoffs, Sky have reasons for optimism

The Sky spent the 2017 season trying to accomplish two things at the same time: build for the future and still make the WNBA playoffs.

They reached one of those goals, but the Sky might have positioned themselves to be an intriguing team in 2018.

The Sky finished 12-22 and missed the postseason for the first time since 2012. After firing coach Pokey Chatman and dealing superstar Elena Delle Donne to Washington in the offseason, the Sky, hampered by late arrivals and absences, started 3-12.

Needing a late surge to make the postseason, the Sky lost their last four to drop out of contention and were eliminated from the playoff picture with a 110-87 loss on Sept. 1 at Minnesota.

Courtney Vandersloot drives to the basket during a game earlier this year in Rosemont. | AP

After that defeat, the subject of the Sky’s future came up.

“It’s tough to think about that right now. We’re still hurting from this. We didn’t want to be in this position by any means,” guard Courtney Vandersloot told the media. “We wanted to make a playoff push, but in a couple days, we’ll look back on this season and realize how good we can be in the future.”

That future, which includes a move to Wintrust Arena next season, could be promising.

Not only do the Sky own their own lottery pick in the 2018 draft, they have Atlanta’s after the trade that sent Tamera Young and Imani Boyette to the Dream. To go with the two high picks in what’s expected to be a deep draft, the Sky figure to have Vandersloot back — after she set a league record by averaging 8.1 assists per game — and should see the debut next year of Alaina Coates, the 2017 No. 2 overall pick who didn’t play this season because of an ankle injury.

Hopefully for the Sky, the returning players and new faces will help them get off to a better start in 2018 than they did in 2017.

“In order for us to get off to a great start next year, we can’t constantly try to reinvent the wheel,” coach Amber Stocks told the media after the Sky’s 85-80 season-ending loss to Seattle. “I’m specifically going to [look for] great players who will play well with Kahleah [Copper], players who will play well with Courtney, players who will play within our system, the same system that has allowed us to set a WNBA record for assists in a single season. We’re not building an All-Star team here. We’re building a championship team, and we need players that will complement the team.”

Follow me on Twitter @BrianSandalow.

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