Are The Chicago Sky The Strongest WNBA Team After Landing Cardoso and Reese?

Are The Chicago Sky The Strongest WNBA Team After Landing Cardoso and Reese?

The Indiana Fever walked away with the darling of the 2024 WNBA Draft when they selected Caitlin Clark with the first overall pick. However, that doesn’t mean that they came away from the night with the strongest team. With the third and seventh pick of the night, the Chicago Sky immediately improved their roster by adding two young, impactful pieces to their potential starting lineup. 

Last season the Sky finished with an 18-22 record, placing them fifth in the Eastern Conference and ultimately a first-round playoff sweeps by the Las Vegas Aces. Two years removed from the franchise’s only WNBA title, the Sky gave themselves a makeover, hiring Teresa Weatherspoon as their new coach and parting ways with Kahleah Copper, their WNBA Finals MVP. 

While most teams tend to focus on adding more scoring firepower to their lineup, the Sky seemed to be more focused on the other end of the court, adding size and defensive talent. 

Kamilla Cardoso

Standing 6’7”, 215lbs, Cardoso helped the undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks to the 2024 NCAA National Championship, the second of her collegiate career. You can click here to read more about the last NCAA Women’s Championship. Averaging 14.4 points and 9.7 rebounds during the regular season, the Brazilian-born forward notched 15 points and 17 rebounds in the title-clinching game against the Iowa Hawkeyes. 

Although she was one of the bigger women on the court most nights, Cardoso, the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, showed impressive body control and mobility, usually reserved for smaller players. The WBCA and SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Cardoso could step into the starting center role for Coach Weatherspoon. While her range is limited to within the paint, going just 1-2 from downtown during her four collegiate seasons, Cardoso averaged 2.1 blocks during that time. 

Losing their leading rebounder Alanna Smith (6.6rpg) to free agency, the Sky will need to rely on current starting center Elizabeth Williams (5.8rpg, 1.5bpg) and Cardoso to protect their hoop. 

Angel Reese

There has been much talk about how Angel Reese fits into the Sky’s lineup considering they added Cardoso with the third pick. Entering the draft, Reese was obviously one of Chicago’s targets, trading with the Minnesota Lynx in order to move up in the draft. But if a relentless defender and rebounder was their focus, which they already had in the South Carolina star, why repeat the process by adding Reese? 

Could the Sky have been better off balancing their roster by taking high-scoring Rickea Jackson with their early pick and still nabbing Reese at 7? As with Cardoso, Reese does her best work close to the hoop, taking and making just 5-32 three-pointers during her four years in college. 

Regardless of what took place, the Sky added “Bayou Barbie” to a rebuilding roster, one that needs some sort of identity. A NCAA Champion in 2023, Reese, the 2024 SEC Player of the Year, is also a two-time First Team All-American and back-to-back member of the SEC All-Defensive Team. During her two seasons in Baton Rouge, Reese made headlines for various reasons, including averaging 20.9 points, 14.4 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks, helping to draw attention to women’s basketball. 

Considering the sports market in Chicago, adding Reese to the roster could be a plus for the Sky both on and off the court, with her potential to become the face of a rebuilding franchise. 

Coach Weatherspoon

Adding to the Sky’s new outlook is first-time WNBA head coach Teresa Weatherspoon. One of the top twenty players in WNBA history, Weatherspoon helped lead the New York Liberty to great success during the early years of the league. A five-time All-Star, Weatherspoon earned her fame off of her blue-collar work ethic, twice leading the league in steals and being named a two-time Defensive Player of the Year. 

In trading Copper for the 3rd pick, the Sky also added two-time WNBA All-Defensive First Team forward Brianna Turner to the front court logjam helping in creating the defensive identity of the Sky. 

Starting Five

Heading into training camp, it appears as though some of the spots on the starting unit have been circled for returning starters from last season, however depending on how Weatherspoon wants to approach the rebuilding process, these spots, especially in the frontcourt, may be up for grabs. 

*2023 stats

  • PG: Dana Evans – 9ppg, 3.0apg
  • SG: Marina Mabrey -15ppg, 3.7rpg, 3.6apg
  • SF: Michaela Onyenwere – 7.4ppg, 2.9rpg, 31.8 3P%
  • PF: Angel Reese – Rookie Year
  • C: Kamilla Cardoso – Rookie Year

It doesn’t make much sense for the Sky to use the third pick in a loaded draft to sit Cardoso on the bench. If Weatherspoon wants to play a big, strong, high-energy, defensive unit, she could slot Reese in at the small forward spot and Elizabeth Williams in at the power forward but runs the risk of having three similar players who need to get in the paint to score. 

While Williams has started 223 of 278 career games, at thirty years old and on a rebuilding team, the Sky may be better with her coming off the bench as part of the second unit. 

After reaching the top of the mountain in 2021, the Sky found themselves crashing back down to earth. With the addition of two young powerful pillars in place to start their rebuild, it is only a matter of time before the Sky find themselves among the best in the WNBA standings.

If you like this article, make sure to check out our piece on the growth in women’s sports as well.

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