Editor's note: Before the 2006 season tips off, ESPN's Nancy Lieberman and ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel and Graham Hays each tackle one question facing all 14 WNBA teams. Here, the experts take a closer look at Chicago.
Did offseason changes make the team better, the same or worse?
It's never easy being an expansion team, but the Sky did the best they could. No. 6 overall pick Candice Dupree of Temple was a solid selection in the rookie draft. She's very tough and athletic and runs the floor well.
In the expansion draft, Chicago added talents such as Stacey Dales (who played three seasons with the Mystics before retiring before last season), Chelsea Newton (a stalwart defender instrumental in Sacramento's WNBA title last summer), Deanna Jackson (a good, long defender), Jia Perkins (a solid scorer), Elaine Powell (who was part of Detroit's 2003 WNBA title team) and Brooke Wyckoff (who was largely underestimated in Connecticut).
Overall, Chicago -- which also picked up eight-year pro Nikki McCray -- has a nice group of veterans and will play hard with a lot of heart, push tempo and get after you defensively. The Sky have a terrific coach and need some time to let the pieces fall into place, but truthfully, Chicago just doesn't have the talent the other teams in the league have. -- ESPN's Nancy Lieberman
What's the best-case scenario for the team? Worst-case?
Best-case: Fans in Chicago (especially those suffering Cubs faithful) take to the WNBA's newest team, because the off-court outlook will be more important than the on-court prospects for the Sky this season. But if McCray proves her almost nonexistent production the past three seasons was more the result of lost opportunity than advancing age and Dales returns from a one-year hiatus with the same all-around skills she showed in Washington, the Sky could score some points and take aim at Charlotte and possibly even New York in the Eastern Conference.
Worst-case: Again, the worst-case scenario more likely involves low attendance than low shooting percentages. But if McCray plays her age (34), Dales is rusty and none of the players who were role players for other teams last season takes advantage of increased playing time, things could get ugly. Rookie post Dupree will have a tough time adjusting to life in the WNBA if opponents have the luxury of paying too much attention to her. -- ESPN.com's Graham Hays
As the WNBA celebrates its 10-year anniversary, what does this franchise
mean to the league?
The 2006 expansion Sky mean the WNBA is now in the holy trinity, so to speak, of television markets: L.A., Chicago and New York. How will the Sky dent the public consciousness in a city so wrapped up in other professional sports? The team will need to have a lot of success -- and get the suburban families interested in coming to watch games. -- ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel