It shouldn’t be too hard for even casual women’s basketball fans to figure out what the Chicago Sky gain from signing unrestricted free agent Ticha Penicheiro.
Penicheiro was named one of the Top 15 WNBA Players of All Time last season, the 14th of her WNBA career. While fans questioned how long she can continue to perform, she had the highest true shooting percentage of her career (59.8%), and the second-highest pure point rating in the league behind a MVP candidate who directed a dynamic offense to the 2011 WNBA title. She’s arguably the best creator in the game today and stats aren’t really necessary to make even more grandiose claims about her ability.
The list of active players who would be a better mentor for second-year point guard Courtney Vandersloot – another who would classify as a “pure point guard” for many people – is short and elite.
But enough about Penicheiro; I could go on for days – and have in the past – about her. She’s good, whether she starts or not she likely won’t be relied upon for big minutes, and this is a great move for a Sky team that is looking to finally make the playoffs.
Yet the more significant issue here might be what this means for the Los Angeles Sparks, who Penicheiro played for the last two years: the Sparks are now left with two ball handlers who haven’t started a full season of games at point guard between them (although Kristi Toliver played well at the beginning of the 2011 season). And there isn’t another point guard of Penicheiro’s caliber on the free agent market.
This isn’t a total disaster for the Sparks, but it’s certainly something they have to get creative to work out if they want to make it to the playoffs again.