Elena Delle Donne Makes Chicago Sky Legitimate Championship Contenders

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2013

Mar 30, 2013; Bridgeport, CT, USA; Delaware Fightin Blue Hens guard/forward Elena Delle Donne (11) warms up prior to a game against the Kentucky Wildcats during the semifinals of the Bridgeport regional of the 2013 NCAA womens basketball tournament at Webster Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

When the Chicago Sky took former Delaware Blue Hens forward Elena Delle Donne at No. 2 overall in the 2013 WNBA draft Monday night (h/t ESPN), they made the clear statement that they are looking to contend for a championship starting this season.

Delle Donne will be the centerpiece of that effort.

The biggest issue for the Sky is that not only have they never won a championship, but the organization has also never made the postseason since joining the league in 2006. That will all change with a great player like Delle Donne dominating at both ends of the court.

While the thought of playing for a team that never made the playoffs would scare other players, the former Blue Hen star knows all about pressure and will revel in the chance to be the savior of a franchise that delivers results on the court.

Delle Donne told ESPN during the WNBA draft's television broadcast about her excitement about getting to Chicago to play with her new team and how much she has matured since playing her college basketball at Delaware:

I love that challenge, that they haven't made the playoffs. … I think I fit on this team so well. I can't wait to get there. … I grew not only as a basketball player, but even more as a person at Delaware. I was able to explore college, but have my family close by. I was an 18-year-old girl, now I'm a 23-year-old woman leaving. I'm so ready for this next step and excited about it.

Not only does Delle Donne have the mental strength and determination to be the leader Chicago needs on the court, but she also has the raw talent to be one of the best players in the WNBA starting from Day 1 in the major leagues.

While Delle Donne is listed as a forward—her 6’5” frame forces her to play as close to the post as possible to capitalize on her rebounding abilities—the Delaware star is just as talented at moving the ball like a point guard as most PGs in the WNBA.

Her ability to keep defenses honest with great passing also opens up plenty of clean shots, and she can hit them from anywhere on the floor. If her shot isn’t open, though, the newest member of the Sky will drop her shoulder and take the ball to the rim.

Whether she draws a foul, makes the shot or just sends a message, Delle Donne will be the physical force that helps her team dominate in 2013 and beyond.

Add in the talented play of guard Epiphanny Prince, who will take advantage of the open passes from Delle Donne—not to mention the rest of the team stepping up now that they have a real chance to be a force in the Eastern Conference—and Chicago will be tough to beat.

The Sky may not win the championship this season, but the team will get into the playoffs and make a serious splash with Delle Donne leading the charge.