The Chicago Sky’s hopes of stringing together a lengthy playoff run took a significant hit on Monday when it was revealed that guard Elena Delle Donne will be shelved with a broken right thumb. She will undergo surgery on Tuesday.
The 6-5 scorer, who indeed shoots right-handed, does not have a timetable for her return, according to the team.
Delle Donne is as critical to her team’s offensive output as any player in the WNBA, averaging 21.5 points per game. That is tied with Tina Charles for best in the league. While her individual per-game scoring contribution isn’t quite as high as it was in 2015, when the former Delaware superstar averaged 23.4 points per game en route to regular-season MVP honors, but Chicago’s reliance upon its top player is high.
Only one other Sky performer, Cappie Poindexter, averages at least 10 points per game. Poindexter’s scored 11.7 per night for the 16-15 Sky, who are angling to avoid the single elimination-round.
The 20th-year league altered its playoff format for the 2016 season. Instead of four first-round series, the league will give four teams first-round byes into the semifinal-round and place the other four qualifiers in single elimination games.
The Sky have clinched a playoff berth into at least the do-or-die-round but are tied with the Atlanta Dream and Indiana Fever for fourth-place – behind the Minnesota Lynx, Los Angeles Sparks and New York Liberty.
Prior to going down, Delle Donne enhanced her game from a shooting standpoint. The 27-year-old guard has connected on 43 percent of her three-point attempts after making just 31 percent of her long-range tries last season.
This is the final week of the WNBA regular season, with the playoffs beginning next week.