One of the all-time legends in the WNBA is still showing her importance in her 14th season. Candace Parker made the shift from Los Angeles to Chicago to rejuvenate her career and have a better shot at a WNBA championship. The Sky got off to a great start to the season with two dominant victories. But as Parker went down, the team missed her leadership on the floor. The Sky’s struggles over their losing stream showed how elite and versatile Parker can be as a hybrid post player.
Let’s date back to the Chicago Sky’s season opener against the Washington Mystics. The team was motivated to finally compete with one another and it was known by their unselfishness on the court. Parker’s caliber was valuable due to her ability to initiate and make decisions. She recorded 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists in the Sky’s victory. Parker’s tremendous impact on both ends led to easy opportunities on offense for Chicago.
As Parker went down with her ankle injury, that was where things began to change. The championship DNA wasn’t there for the Sky and it showed as their numerous collapses in fourth quarters. Players in Kahleah Copper and Diamond DeShields stepped up individually But the execution down the stretch wasn’t good enough to overcome their opponents. Parker did her best to continue to lead from the sideline. But it’s a different impact when she is on the floor. Sitting on a seven-game losing streak, James Wade and his team could not wait any longer for Parker to make her return to the floor.
Parker’s Return/The Turnaround
Parker made her return on June 9 against the Indiana Fever. As soon as the game tipped off, there was already a difference in the Sky. Parker begins the game by bringing the ball down the floor and dishing it to Kahleah Copper for a penetrating layup. She may have been on a minutes restriction, but that didn’t change her ability to place her teammates in the best positions. Parker finished the contest with 3 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists in Chicago’s first win since May 19.
The momentum of snapping their losing streak continued for Chicago. Their next matchup came against the Minnesota Lynx, a team that is looking to get back on the right path of success. The Sky made sure to put their foot on the gas early. They began playing so well that Lynx coach Cheryl Reeves was heated about the Sky scoring 15 quick points in the first quarter. The Sky jumped out the gates with 39 points in the first quarter and held a 16 point lead early.
This was a game where Parker was slowly finding her groove again. Her movement was better and she was assertive putting the ball in the basket. Parker finished with 12 points on the night on 5-9 shooting. The Sky shot 57 percent from the field along with 32 assists on the evening.
Parker’s impact also continued on as the Sky defeated the Connecticut Sun 81-75 on Thursday night. Once again, it was representation of Parker finding her groove and being a leader on the floor. She recorded 8 rebounds while tallying 15 points in 31 minutes. The Sky as a team shot 41 percent from the floor and crashed the boards with 38 rebounds. The Sky win moves the team to 3-0 since Parker’s return.
The Candace Parker effect is going just fine for the Chicago Sky. They remain undefeated with her on the floor and they show championship DNA when she leads the way. With more games left in the season, Parker will continue to lead the way and teach what being a champion is about.