LOS ANGELES — The 3-3 Los Angeles Sparks are back home after a disappointing loss against the Seattle Storm on Tuesday. They hope to get back on the right track against the Chicago Sky, who are 5-3 for the season.
Just like most of the teams in the W, the Chicago Sky went through a huge makeover. Most of the players that helped the Sky win the 2021 WNBA title are gone. Courtney Vandersloot is with the super team in New York. Allie Quigley is sitting out for the season. Candace Parker is with the other super team in Las Vegas. Heck, Emma Meesseman, who played there last season (but not with the title team), isn’t with the team this season. And of course, we all know Azurá Stevens joined the Sparks this offseason.
So that’s a lot of turnover for the Sky. But they did keep Kahleah Copper, two-time All-Star and 2021 WNBA Finals MVP. The undisputed #1 option for the Sky, she’s averaging 18.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Her fierce competitiveness has kept the Chicago Sky winning.
Another one that’s stayed with the team is plucky guard Dana Evans. Against Indiana, she scored all of her 20 points in the second half, including 9 in overtime. She has been a spitfire off the bench and will be quite the waterbug on the court.
As for the new players, the Sky acquired feisty shooter Marina Mabrey from the Wings. She’s averaging 16.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game and that lady can get all the buckets. Chicago also has Alanna Smith (10.1 points per), who spent last season with the Fever and her first three seasons with the Phoenix Mercury. Courtney Williams is also now with the Sky and she has big-game experience with all her years with the Connecticut Sun. Former all-star Elizabeth Williams provides the dirty work on the glass. And UCLA product Rebekah Gardner gives firepower off the bench.
The Sky are also the best three-point shooting team in the league right now. So the Sparks defense have to definitely rotate to their shooters, which is pretty much everyone but Liz Williams.
The Sparks had a hard time getting anything going against that stunningly stout Seattle defense on Tuesday. They also turned the ball over 23 times against the Storm, which was very uncharacteristic of the Sparks this season. Any team is in any game if they take care of the ball and the Sparks usually do well in that department. And they can win any game with last week’s Player of the Week, Nneka Ogwumike. She’s been incredible this season with averages of 20.6 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.8 steals. Lexie Brown has been off to a great start this season, shooting .444 from three and averaging 14.5 points per.
As for the Sparks’ health, they missed Chiney Ogwumike on Tuesday. She’s questionable for this game. It’ll be nice to get a full squad going very soon for this team and if Chiney plays on Friday night, they’ll be closer than ever to achieving that.
The Sparks have a chance to go over .500 entering the weekend. But it’s going to be a tough game against the Chicago Sky, who are not apparently about the rebuilding this season.