Can Alaina Coates Replace Elena Delle Donne For The Sky?

Alaina Coates
Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images

The Chicago Sky made an unexpected selection at No. 2 by taking Alaina Coates, who will miss at least part of the season.

For the Chicago Sky, everything changed when perennial All-Star Elena Delle Donne told the team she had no interest in re-signing with the Sky. Sure, they received Kahleah Copper and Stefanie Dolson in return, but replacing a player like Delle Donne is never that simple.

Delle Donne averaged 21.5 points, 7 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game last season and is considered one of the best in the WNBA at playing both the forward and guard positions. The loss of Delle Donne combined with a 18-16 record meant one thing for the Sky: a rebuild.

Not a major rebuild mind you, but enough of one where there is little chance of Chicago competing in the WNBA Finals this season. Which might explain why the Sky surprised a lot of people when they made Alaina Coates out of South Carolina the second overall pick in the draft.

Coates was considered one of the best players in the draft, possibly even better that eventual No. 1 pick Kelsey Plum. She averaged 12.1 points, 9.25 rebounds and 0.9 assists in her career and could have an immediate impact on the Sky’s fortunes.

If she was going to play.

As most fans are aware, Coates missed the the bulk of the SEC Tournament and the entire NCAA Tournament with an ankle injury. It was severe enough that it required surgery and will keep her off the court for part or possibly all of the 2017 WNBA season.

But considering that the Sky are not likely to be very competitive this season and they have time to wait, there was simply no way the Sky could pass on Coates.

Can she pick up where Delle Donne left off? We’ll have to wait and see.

Later in the first round the Sky decided to help their game from beyond the arc by drafting Tori Jankoska out of Michigan State. She is the Spartans all-time leader in 3-pointers with 320 and is also solid from the free throw line. Jankoska should be able to help the Sky almost immediately once she becomes integrated into their offense.

In the second round the Sky took Chantel Osahor out of Washington, but she wasn’t a member of the Sky for long. On Friday the Sky traded the rights to Osahor to the Minnesota Lynx in exchange for forward Keisha Hampton.

Sky GM and head coach Amber Stocks seems happy with the addition of Hampton to the roster, saying:

“Keisha Hampton, is a consistent shooter from all areas of the floor. She has the ability to stretch the defense and open up the floor for our inside players. She is versatile and she fits a need we have for our current roster.”

Many analysts weren’t sure Osahor would go in the first round or possibly fall to the third despite her amazing rebounding skills. She needs a very specific offensive scheme to maximize what she brings to the court and obviously the Sky felt it might be the best fit. Instead she goes to a perennial title contender in the Lynx.

In the third round the Sky took guard Makayla Epps out of Kentucky, which some might consider the steal of the draft. Many thought Epps could be a first round selection so the fact she fell to the third has to be looked at as a win for Chicago.

Epps averaged 17.7 points and 3.6 assists so she could be a great addition for a team in the midst of a minor rebuild like the Sky.

The Chicago Sky clearly know what direction they want to go in now that the post-Elena Delle Donne Era has begun. They addressed several needs through the draft with a combination of raw talent and trades. While next season might be a bust, the future is looking very bright.

About David Goodman 36 Articles

David Goodman has been a Philadelphia sports fan from the moment his father taught him how to say the words “F*ck Dallas”. He loved watching the Phillies win the World Series in 2008, but really hopes to see his beloved Sixers win an NBA title before he dies.

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