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The three-eyed Raven of the WNBA - Courtney Vandersloot

Courtney Vandersloot – the three-eyed raven
Courtney Vandersloot – the three-eyed raven
Sameer Prasad Koppolu
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The three-eyed raven a mythical creature with the ability to transport itself to the past and make decisions to influence the future and, according to Greek mythology, can also prophecize the future.

With the Chicago Sky winning the championship by beating the Phoenix Mercury in four games to climax the WNBA's exciting season, much of the attention focused on Candace Parker, the homecoming queen.

But if anyone has watched the Chicago Sky, then they know there is one player in particular who is an offensive threat at any point. That's none other than the all-seeing, three-eyed raven – Courtney Vandersloot.

What makes Vandersloot the three-eyed raven?

Normally, the word offensive threat brings to mind someone who can always score. Someone who gets double- and sometimes triple-teamed by the defense. But Courtney Vandersloot thrives on giving up the ball – setting up her teammates in better positions for better shots.

Let's see how she does this.

TRANSITION OFFENSE

Vandersloot is the queen of transition offense. Coming down the court, she makes sure her pace is high and attacks the top of the paint, thereby drawing the defense toward her. At this point, her eyes are focused on the defense or on one of her teammates on the wing.

While all this is happening, she finds a teammate cutting toward the rim and often delivers a sensational no-look pass to the cutter for an easy finish, leaving the defense rooted in their spots.

Here's a look at how she does it:

PICK AND ROLL

When setting up the offense, Vandersloot makes use of a simple pick and roll with help from one of her bigs. Once the screen is set and the defense switches, the all-seeing, three-eyed raven again directs the defense's attention to a wing player and delivers a speedy no-look pass at chest level to the cutting big, leading to an easy bucket at the rim.

Here's what that looks like:

PICK AND POP

Like the three-eyed raven, Vandersloot knows exactly where her teammates are. She often waits for a big to set the screen and drives to the basket only to quickly kick the ball out to the screener or another wing player for an open jump shot. This jump shot is possible because of her ability to draw multiple defenders to herself, which leaves one of her teammates always unguarded.

Here's how she executes the pick and pop:

From all of this, it's fair to say Vandersloot is the epitome of the art of playmaking. She draws defenders and captivates them with her eyes, thereby misdirecting their attention elsewhere. And while all of this is happening, her third eye knows exactly where everybody on the court is positioned, which allows her to make any kind of pass to her teammates, thereby changing the course of the game.

Let's take this further by backing up the raven's impact with some numbers.

Measuring the raven's Impact

Looking at the 2020-2021 regular season, the raven led the WNBA in assists averaging 8.6 assists per game. That was nearly three assists per game higher than Natasha Cloud, who came in second place. That number jumped to a whopping 10.2 per game in the playoffs.

WNBA regular-season assists per game – top 10 players
WNBA regular-season assists per game – top 10 players

To measure the impact she has on the Chicago Sky, make use of the 'assist percentage' statistic. Based on the pie chart below, it can be seen that she assisted nearly 45% of her teammates' field goals.

Assist percentage (2020-2021 regular season) – Chicago Sky Players
Assist percentage (2020-2021 regular season) – Chicago Sky Players

In the 2020-2021 regular season, her assists generated 619 points, the highest in the WNBA. In addition to this, her assists generated 231 points in the playoffs. This when combined with the points she scored in the regular season and the playoffs amounted to nearly 38% of the total number of points scored by the Chicago Sky in the regular season and playoffs combined.

Regular Season Player Generated Assists (PGA) - Top 15
Regular Season Player Generated Assists (PGA) - Top 15

Vandersloot has proven to be a very valuable asset. As a veteran leader, she was one of the main reasons behind Chicago winning the WNBA championship. So far, she has held the highest number of win shares for the team over the past four seasons. Her assist-making ability is second to none and is why she deserves the title of the "three-eyed raven."


live poll LIVE POLL

Q. Will Courtney Vandersloot re-sign with the Chicago Sky next season?

Yes

No

Edited by Joseph Schiefelbein
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