Courtney Vandersloot is passing her way into history (again) and Allie Quigley seems fated to leave a historic mark on the 3-point shooting record books.
If you asked Allie Quigley or Courtney Vandersloot of the Chicago Sky about records or accolades they would tell you they only care about one thing right now: wins.
Both guards may have just played in the WNBA All-Star Game this past weekend, but with the Sky in position to make noise in the postseason, all eyes are focused ahead.
“I think we’re just trying to win games to be honest,” Quigley said about possible All-Star selections earlier this season. “The moment we start thinking about [who might be an All-Star], that’s wrong. We just gotta go out there and get wins, get better everyday.”
At 11-8 and the fifth seed in the playoff race, the Sky are both in a position to jockey for a first round bye and in relative danger of dropping out of the field. Luckily for Chicago, Quigley and Vandersloot’s historic seasons are a big part of why the Sky have played as well as they have this season.
Courtney Vandersloot the Assist Queen
Courtney Vandersloot blew the lid off of the WNBA single-season assist record last year, dishing out 22 more dimes than the previous record holder, Ticha Penicheiro. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that she did it in just 30 games—just like Penicheiro in 2000.
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Vandersloot has played in all 19 of Chicago’s regular season games so far this season. Her assist average this season is just a tick down from 2018—8.5 compared to 8.6—but, with her current pace, if she plays one more game than last year she will break her old record.
Considering the Sky’s position, Vandersloot is likely to suit up for every game she is physically capable to play in. The Sky certainly need their floor general if they want to realize the potential of what has grown into a special season.
Vandersloot is the heart and soul of the offense, directing traffic and making head coach James Wade’s system work as well as it does. Nobody else on the team has shown an ability to run an offense like Vandersloot, which is not surprising considering few players in the history of the game have. And with her herculean production this year, her value to the team is only climbing.
Vandersloot averaged 10 assists per game in the seven July contests leading up to the All-Star break, bringing her assist average up from 7.6 to its current level. Her July outburst should come as no surprise to anybody who has watched the 5-foot-8 point guard the past few seasons. Vandersloot’s July and August season numbers have dwarfed her early season outputs—she has averaged nearly three three more assists per game in those months than in May and June.
But this year, she has raised the bar even higher. Even Vandersloot’s annual slow start—which would still be the second best assist average in the league this year, second only to herself—is an entire assist more on average than previous years. Her July explosion has also been bigger than the past two years, and with slightly fewer turnovers to boot.
Vandersloot is somehow elevating her game following an unprecedented season distributing the ball. The only question now is whether or not she can keep passing the ball at her current rate, and if she has another gear she can reach.
Allie Quigley the Sniper
For all the discussion about Allie Quigley’s level of involvement within the Sky’s offense, her precision has not wavered.
She has picked apart opposing defenses all season long, shooting the three ball with deadly accuracy and leaving close-out defenders with nothing to wave their arms at but air. And even when players have put pressure on her, Quigley has simply shrugged them off and hit bombs anyway.
Quigley’s volume could probably do with a bump, but the fact that she has hit as many threes as she has this season despite her attempts is a testament to how accurate she is. Quigley currently sits atop the league in 3-point makes with 51, but has attempted only the seventh-most threes. The only other players shooting above 43% from three, Alysha Clark (48.4%) and Kayla McBride (47.4%), are also shooting one less three than Quigley (47.7%) per game.
While the story with Quigley has largely circled around volume, her mythic accuracy has still buoyed her production beyond the rest of the league’s shooters, and will likely propel her further into the record books.
If Quigley keeps up her pace of 2.7 makes a game for the rest of the season, she will become the first player not named Diana Taurasi to crack 90 threes in a single season. That is no small feat considering Taurasi owns the six best 3-point shooting seasons in league history, and is the only player break 100 made threes in a season (she has done it twice). Quigley would finish as the sole owner of the fifth best season from deep if she can keep splashing threes at her current rate, and would end the year with the most impressive display of efficiency since Nneka Ogwumike’s unreal MVP year where she had a true shooting percentage of 73.7%.
There is a chance Quigley could even see her totals rise if given the right opportunity. She took two more threes a game in her seven July games, knocking down half of them. In the Sky’s final game before the break, we saw Quigley used in way off the ball that she has not been used all season. She was far more active without the ball in her hand and ran through noticeably more screens to get good looks at the basket.
If—and it is a big if—Wade is on the verge of unlocking Quigley’s full 3-point potential, she could climb even further up the leaderboard. She would need to average 3.3 threes a game to reach the legendary 100 mark, a huge ask for a player already stretching the bounds of the league.
Regardless of what her ceiling as a shooter this year is, one thing is for sure: she will find the most efficient way to get to there, and probably torch some defenses along the way.
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