The biggest questions facing the sky this season begin and end with the Big Three

There was one important question surrounding Sky after they won their first WNBA Championship in 2021: Will they do it again?

It was a question that coach and general manager James Wade seemed to answer with a firm yes in free agency when the team re-signed their core consisting of Courtney Vanderslott, Ali Quigley and Kahlia Cooper and made significant additions by signing forward Emma Missiman W. Trade for guard Julie Allemand.

But it turns out that the answer was no. Eliminated by the Sun in a five-game semi-final series, Sky faces tougher questions this season. Questions like: Will the face of the franchise, Vandersloot, return, or – for the first time in her WNBA career – suitable for another team?

Will Quigley, the sniper who started her legacy at DePaul — and cemented it when she led Sky in the final quarter back on the road to the 2021 title — get suspended after failing to repeat?

And will Candice Parker, one of the greatest WNBA players of all time, join Quigley in retirement after a season in which she showed she still had history left to play?

Let’s start with the hardest question.

When Parker, who grew up in Naperville, signed with Sky in 2020, she did so to play tournament-caliber players. Vanderslott was one of the keys to her return to the region.

“Sloot is Chicago,” Parker said after the first game of the semifinals in August. “This is her privilege. I came here to play with her.”

Vandersloot motivates challenges, and nothing has been greater than winning back-to-back titles – a feat not accomplished in the WNBA in more than 20 years. But after Heaven fails, it could be motivated by something new — and something Parker understands all too well.

An important reason why Vandersloot, who is ranked number three on the WNBA career roster, had meetings with Storm and Lynx last winter before sticking with Sky was her desire to advance her game outside of the comfort she founded in Chicago. Working with player development coach Jeff Pagliuca this year has pushed her somewhat outside her comfort zone. But next season, Vandersloot, who is originally from Kent, Washington, may go even further by taking a page out of Parker’s playbook and moving to a house closer to his hometown in Seattle. It could be just the challenge you are looking for.

prediction:Expect Vanderslott with a storm in February.

The impending retirements of Quigley and Parker aren’t news – they have both spoken at length about their careers coming to a close – but for Quigley, the end may be closer.

Her story can inspire even the faintest of sports fans. After being drafted by Storm with the 22nd pick in 2008—the same year Parker went to first overall—Quigley played for five WNBA teams in four years. In 2012, she chose not to play in the WNBA and instead focused on her career abroad. When she returned in 2013, she was playing with coach Pokey Chatman and the Sky, with whom she doubled her points in every game from 2013 to 2014.

She became an All-Star three times and won four points in a three-point competition. Like her wife, Vandersloot, she stayed with Sky aiming for her first WNBA title for Chicago, taking a $59,000 cut in salary this year.

Quigley’s numbers took a hit in 2022. She averaged 11.4 points, her lowest season since 2016, when she averaged 9.5 points. She chose not to play abroad for the first time in 15 years.

prediction:Quigley announces her retirement in the new year.

Now to Parker. In her 15th season, she became the first female WNBA player with at least 6,000 points, 3,000 rebounds, and 1,500 assists, was named to the All-WNBA First Team for the seventh time and became an all-star all seven. She is also the two-time League Player of the Year and the only player in league history to win Player of the Year (2008).

Before Sky dropped Games 4 and 5 to the sun, he averaged 16.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, five assists through six playoffs and had 19 points, 18 rebounds, six blocks, five assists and four assists in Game 1.

Parker has said in the past that she didn’t keep playing just for it – she wanted the titles. She also said that the only teams she is interested in playing for are Sparks (her former team) and Sky.

She has made it clear that she has no intention of cheating in the game, and there are no signs of that in 2023.

prediction:Parker returns, signing with Sparks or Sky, depending on how the two teams are configured at free agency.

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