June 27, 2023 

Chicago Sky notebook: What to make of six-game losing streak, Marina Mabrey expanding offensive repertoire

James Wade: We just have to be stronger

The Chicago Sky are searching for answers.

Continue reading with a subscription to The Next

Get unlimited access to women’s basketball coverage and help support our hardworking staff of writers, editors, and photographers by subscribing today. Join today

After losing 96-72 to the Brionna Jonesless Connecticut Sun on June 25, the Sky are in the midst of a six-game skid. They have been outscored by 83 points during that span and haven’t played a complete 40-minute performance since earlier this season. Electrifying late-game comebacks that propelled the team in May have regressed into the Sky, trying to play catch up until it’s too late.

Chicago now stands at 5-9. Sky head coach/general manager James Wade emphasized after the loss to Connecticut the team needs to “put it together” after other teams around the league have caught up to the Sky after its hot 5-3 start to the year.

“Now we have to go on a run. It’s attention to details,” Wade said. “We’re averaging almost 20 turnovers these last three games and a lot of it has to do with a lot of physicality we are running into. We just have to be stronger and stay in place.”

Here are some other notes coming out of Chicago over the last week.

Fouls, turnovers have shaken Sky’s offensive cohesion

Chicago’s offense has been trending in the wrong direction over the last six games.

The sharp decision-making and effectiveness creating opportunities off the ball for their teammates in the first eight games of the season has morphed into an offense that lacks ball movement. Turnovers on the offensive end of the floor have turned into easy attempts on the other end. It has resulted in Chicago sporting a -17.7 net rating over the last six games, the 11th-worst mark during that span.

“Our group has a virus, and they’re feeling sorry for themselves,” Wade said after its loss to Washington on June 22. “Nobody’s going to care. You have to pick yourself up and come together, and right now we haven’t. We will. We’re just not good right now.”

Chicago’s offensive struggles in 2023

CategoryValueLeague Rank
Points Per Game77.39th
Offensive Rating95.710th
Turnovers Per Game15.410th
Points Per Possession (half court)*0.81511th
Opponents Points Off Turnovers Per Game17.19th
At Rim FG%**57.88%Last
*Per Synergy Sports
**Per PBP Stats

As the Sky work through their inconsistency on the offensive end, some of their struggles can be attributed to how they have been officiated this season. Chicago’s 16.4 personal fouls drawn per game is last in the WNBA despite attempting the fifth-most shots at the rim this season. Wade has expressed his frustration with the officiating and has stated he thinks some of that has to do with his players not having the same highly-regarded reputations as others in the league.

The officiating going against the Sky is not the reason this team has endured its fair share of struggles this year. Losing Rebekah Gardner, Isabelle Harrison, and Morgan Bertsch for an extended period has hurt the team as it navigated its way through shorter rotations versus teams with more depth. However, it hasn’t helped them as they continue to battle through adversity this year.

Marina Mabrey‘s rim pressure a plus for Chicago

When the Sky traded for Marina Mabrey and sent out the most first round draft picks any WNBA team has given up in a deal, it was an investment in the player she is now and the one she can develop into. Mabrey, who is 26 years old, has continued to add to her offensive repertoire each year she has been in the league. 2023 has been no different, as she has made it a point to attack downhill more than she has in her young WNBA career.

Heading into her overseas season with Schio, Mabrey told The Next she wanted to impact games by providing rim pressure when her shot wasn’t falling. Pairing the physicality, she plays with night to night with a honed offensive approach paid dividends for her with Schio and has translated well over to her time with the Sky. Mabrey is getting to the line 3.7 times per game (easily a career high) while maintaining the same efficiency from beyond the arc (35.3 3P% on 5.8 attempts per game).

Even as the Sky figure out their offense, Mabrey’s progression has been a bright spot.

“I can get into the paint whenever I want,” Mabrey said on June 22. “People can’t stay in front of me. It’s more about going up strong and keeping my eyes on the rim rather than trying to settle for a jump shot.”

Marina Mabrey’s Free Throw Rate Season to Season

YearFree Throw Rate
201911.5%
202014.1%
202110.0%
202210.7%
202316.0%
Per Her Hoop Stats

Mabrey has been able to take on a larger role in the Sky’s offense this season after not always being able to play with the level of freedom she gets to now. She’s made the most of her expanded opportunity since arriving in Chicago earlier this year.

Honorable mention

  • Kahleah Copper became the Sky’s fourth all-time leading scorer in franchise history after passing Elena Delle Donne this past Sunday. Copper has continued to blossom into one of the premier two-way players in the WNBA since receiving more minutes from 2020 and onward. She now has 2,183 points in a Sky uniform.

Written by James Kay

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.