For the first time in their respective WNBA careers, Skylar Diggins and Elena Delle Donne clashed in the professional ranks. The duo went second and third, respectively, in the 2013 WNBA draft, thus resulting in their instant labeling as tomorrow's stars.
In Round 1, Delle Donne's Chicago Sky defeated Diggins' Tulsa Shock by a score of 92-71.
Delle Donne got the best of this battle in an individual regard as well, as she scored 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting from the floor. She was also 3-of-3 from beyond the arc, tallying four rebounds, three assists, one steal and a block.
Most importantly, the Sky moved to 3-0 with the victory.
Diggins struggled to overcome Courtney Vandersloot's tenacious defense, often being forced to dribble into corners. Even still, Diggins finished with a quality stat line of eight points, three assists, two rebounds and a steal on 3-of-10 shooting from the field.
The loss sends the Shock to 0-4 on the season.
Leading the charge for the Sky were Sylvia Fowles, who finished with 10 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks, Epiphanny Prince with 19 points and Swin Cash with 14 points and five assists. Tamera Young added 16 points and seven rebounds coming off of the bench.
For Tulsa, Glory Johnson picked up a monstrous 15 points and 13 rebounds. Riquna Williams added 10 points, but there just wasn't enough supporting fire to survive the Sky's power.
So how did it all transpire?
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Elena Delle Donne
Elena Delle Donne has established herself as the player to beat in the Rookie of the Year race, and tonight was no different. There were moments in which she struggled, but all in all, Delle Donne finished with a quality outing.
If nothing else, she was sensational with her jump shot.
Elena Delle Donne is a game changer.. That's what people failed to realize before she went to the WNBA.— Twandalette Cotton (@Twandalette) June 2, 2013
Making three three-point field goals proves that.
Even when shots weren't going down, Delle Donne was able to prove her offensive abilities. That was never more evident than in the fourth quarter, as she drove left, used her spin move to go back right and went for an uncontested hook.
Even though the shot didn't fall, it's plays like that that prove just how much upside Delle Donne possesses.
It's hard to argue.
One area that Delle Donne struggled with was closing out on her assignment, as she allowed bail-out passes to result in three-point field goals on more than one occasion. For a player with her length, that simply cannot be the case.
Who will win Rookie of the Year?
She made amends with a great block from behind and a steal, but the play-by-play intensity could be an issue—one we're inclined to believe will be covered up.
Outside of the stat sheet, Delle Donne did a great job of setting screens and making plays when it all broke down. From passes out of double-teams to knowing when to take the extra dribble, Delle Donne scratched and clawed her way to a positive outcome.
It worked out, as Chicago secured the win and thus moves to 3-0.
Skylar Diggins returned to an area that she's quite familiar with having played at Notre Dame. As a result, the road crowd ended up supporting Diggins as much as they did the Chicago Sky.
A major reason for that reaction is the crowd that traveled in Diggins' support.
8 bus loads of fans from ND heading to Chicago tomorrow to see @SkyDigg4 -So proud of how well she continues to represent us.Let's go Shock!— Muffet McGraw (@MuffetMcGraw) June 2, 2013
Unfortunately, the crowd couldn't help Diggins overcome Courtney Vandersloot's defense.
Diggins started out hot, working the give-and-go and attacking baseline for the game's first two points. Unfortunately, it was far from easy pickings for the former Fighting Irish star, as she struggled to score from there on out.
Vandersloot's extraordinary defense was a major reason why.
Vandersloot pressured Diggins on every possession, which often forced Diggins to drive left and open the door for an easy trap by the defense. In turn, Diggins committed three turnovers to match her three assists.
Yet another growing pain as the third overall draft choice transitions to the WNBA.
Skylar Diggins finishes with 8 pts, 3 assists as the shock lose to the sky 92-71. Shock are now 0-4. Skylar very frustrated after the game— Angelo Di Carlo (@angdicarlowndu) June 3, 2013
A summary of Diggins came during the second quarter, as she missed a technical free throw but moments later converted an and-1. This is the definition of Diggins' game thus far, as she's had moments of glory and periods of inconsistency.
The southpaw gives every defender trouble, and her own on-ball defense was impressive, but Diggins was over-aggressive in multiple instances and thus committed fouls and turnovers that she wished she could have back.
What's Next for Delle Donne?
Elena Delle Donne will lead the Chicago Sky into Texas on Friday, June 7, as they play a road game against the San Antonio Silver Stars. Delle Donne will clash with fellow first-year player Kayla Alexander, which presents the opportunity for a measuring stick in the Rookie of the Year voting.
What's Next for Diggins?
Up next for Skylar Diggins and the Tulsa Shock is a road game against the Seattle Storm on Friday, June 7. Seattle's three-guard set could give Diggins trouble, as the trio of Temeka Johnson, Tanisha Wright and Noelle Quinn thrives in a joint facilitator's role.
Diggins has a great opportunity to prove her early legitimacy with a strong performance in this one.