Big in the bubble: Sky point guard Vandersloot making another case for WNBA MVP
It's a shame Chicago Sky fans are having to watch the wizardry of point guard Courtney Vandersloot from afar.
COVID-19 and the need for the WNBA's bubble in Florida has robbed them of being able to see "Slooty" up close-and-personal once again lead the WNBA in assists while also keeping the Sky as one of the top contenders for a title.
While Vandersloot is dishing out 8.7 assists per game (more than 3 more a game than Diana Taurasi who ranks second with 5.6 assists per game), the Sky is bunched up at the top of the league with first-place Seattle, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Minnesota. Seattle is firmly in first place, while Las Vegas is 1.5 games out of first and Los Angeles, Minnesota and the Sky (9-4 for just the second time in franchise history) are all 2 games out of first.
Vandersloot has put up double-digit assists in 6 of 13 games and on Tuesday dished out a season-best 15 assists to go along with 15 points against Las Vegas.
"She's the head of our state," Sky head coach James Wade said of Vandersloot. "She's been able to create, get in the lanes and make good decisions whether that be putting the ball in the basket or making sure that the offense gets ran, or either dropping it down for a dime. She's been doing everything for us these last, I mean, it's the whole season, but she's been doing a lot for us these last two games. She's been really aggressive and I love it."
Even Vandersloot's adversaries love her game.
Washington Mystics point guard Natasha Cloud posted on Twitter Friday: "I'm just gonna say this here ... Courtney Vandersloot's name needs to be at the top of the list for mvp candidates."
Last year, Vandersloot also led the league with a career-best 9.1 assists per game, and I called for her to be named MVP. But that honor went to another worthy candidate, Elena Delle Donne of the Washington Mystics, who went on to win the WNBA title.
Cloud says Vandersloot doesn't get "the credit she deserves."
You'll never hear any complaining or campaigning by the ever-humble and soft-spoken Vandersloot. But she was asked about all the MVP talk after the Sky's 101-85 victory over the New York Liberty on Thursday night in the WNBA's Bubble at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
"I feel two ways about it," Vandersloot said. "One, I'm obviously honored because those people that are talked about MVP, this is the world's best league and if you're talking about the MVP of that league, I mean, that's something special.
"Also, it's just conversation. It's just chatter, it's controlled by the media. To me, I just want to win games. I want to be in a position to win a championship so I'm not really that concerned about it, especially now. Ask me at the end of the season then maybe I'll have a different answer, but right now I'm focused on one thing and that's winning games."
Lots of points, dollars:
Sky players made a pledge at the start of the season to donate money to its social justice initiative, #SkyTakesAction.
The players together are donating $10 for every point scored, $100 for every win and $50 for every loss. So far, slightly more than halfway into the season, they have now raised $12,420. In addition, fans have donated $10,320 for a combined total of $22,740 through 13 games.
Sky ownership will match all player contributions.
The #SkyTakesAction initiative is "about longevity and togetherness" in "the battle for equality." Funds will be donated to various Chicago area charitable organizations.