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  • Writer's pictureSadahri Lindsey

From "Tanking" to "Playoff Contenders"- How the Chicago Sky Defied All Odds

The 2023 off-season for the Chicago Sky was one of the most difficult off-seasons that the organization has seen in a while. There were a lot of “thank you” graphics. By the time the preseason started, Chicago fans were thinking that the team were going to be “tanking”.

Thank you, Candace Parker.

Thank you, Allie Quigley.

Thank you, Courtney Vandersloot.

Thank you, Azura Stevens.

The majority of organizations simply don't bounce back quickly from taking loss after loss in that fashion, but the Sky was a different story. Most people didn't realize that they still did well in the offseason because there was still a focus on who they lost. The acquisitions of Courtney Williams, Marina Mabrey, and Isabelle Harrison helped to rebuild the Chicago Sky foundation. Kahleah Copper also signed to stay in Chicago, giving fans another positive area to look towards.

A couple of weeks before the season started, details came out that Isabelle Harrison would miss some time this season after needing surgery on a torn left meniscus. This news was a huge blow to the team. Unfortunately, this would not be the first time that the Sky would deal with major injuries this season.

As the start of the 2023 season came around, the Chicago Sky realized that they had something to prove to the league. They might not have the big-name “superstars” on the team anymore, but this team will still be a force to be reckoned with on the court. During their very first game of the season, Kahleah Copper put up 20 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Copper has seemed to become the leader of this young team. Other players have seemed to step up as well, such as Elizabeth Williams, Dana Evans, and Courtney Williams.

In their third game of the season, the Sky went against the Washington Mystics. The Sky were expecting to get their third win of the season, but in the second half of this game, they fell apart offensively. From there, they just could not find the comeback. Rebekah Gardner suffered a foot injury that ended up requiring surgery adding another player to the Sky's lengthy injury list. With Gardner and Harrison, the main players at the forward position for the Sky, being out for some time, the Sky is scrambling. These injuries are forcing the Sky to play their less experienced players more and more which can be good and bad.

One reason why the Chicago Sky has been a really surprising team this season is because of their explosive style of play. The team is able to quickly move the ball across the court which benefits them greatly. Transitional defense is an area where a lot of teams fall apart but the Sky are able to capitalize on it. This team also has one of the best defenses in the entire league, averaging 26 defensive rebounds and five blocks per game, which makes it even harder for other teams to score on them.

Kahleah Copper for the Chicago Sky against the Indiana Fever | Photo Credit to Chicago Sky

However, the month of June was quite difficult for the Sky. They went on a six-game losing streak with losses to the Indiana Fever, LA Sparks, Las Vegas Aces, Connecticut Sun, and twice to the Washington Mystics. Most of these games have been close scorelines, showing that the team struggled with finishing through at the end. After a major blowout by the Washington Mystics on June 22 followed by a loss to the Sun on June 25, the Sky were able to turn it around. The rest of their June played out with two wins over the LA Sparks and one over the Indiana Fever, proving they can battle their way back against teams.

This Chicago Sky team is the true definition of "When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade." From losing most of their 2021 championship squad, dealing with injuries, and all that was in between, this team has defied all the odds that were against them this season. If the Chicago Sky can limit their number of turnovers, and play hard at the end of these games, they are bound to make a turnaround for the latter half of the season. This team should still be commended for their effort this season. They are currently in fourth in the Eastern Conference and sixth place in the league standings overall.

The Chicago Sky's next game is against the Atlanta Dream at Wintrust Arena on Friday, July 7, 2023, at 8 PM EST. The game will be available to watch on WNBA League Pass.


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