Point-guard controversy? Not with the Chicago Sky
So what's better than one really good point guard?
Two, of course.
The Chicago Sky has that luxury this season in veteran Courtney Vandersloot and young gun Jamierra Faulkner. The two have been essentially splitting time at the position.
And get this: There seems to be no point guard controversy brewing in Chicago.
"Oh, not at all," Vandersloot said, shooting down the notion of any tension between her and Faulkner. "There is a good relationship between us. We know we need each other. There are games when we'll go with Jamierra late, and I have no problem with that.
"Having two good point guards like we do makes us so much better."
Vandersloot, a regular starter since 2011 who started every game last season while logging nearly 30 minutes per game, is playing the fewest minutes of her career (22.4 mpg) this season. But she says there are no hard feelings about playing time.
"I always tell Jamierra that I am her biggest fan," Vandersloot said. "I really appreciate what she can do."
In fact, while she's on the bench Vandersloot has been known to cheer so loud for Faulkner that head coach Pokey Chatman routinely has turned around to identify which fan in the stands is being so loud, only to realize the "fan" with the lungs is Vandersloot.
"I really admire that about Slooty," Faulkner said of Vandersloot. "She's always cheering me on. And I cheer for her. If she's out there playing really well and doing her thing, I don't even want to go in. I wouldn't want to mess up what she's got going."
Vandersloot and Faulkner are similar in that they both are extremely talented and effective on the court, evident in the fact that they both are ranked among the top five playmakers in the WNBA.
But the two point guards also are different enough that Chatman can use one or the other more depending on the situation or the opponent.
Vandersloot, averaging 4.5 assists per game, which ranks fifth in the league, is more of a traditional point guard and thrives on directing traffic in the half-court, craftily running plays within the offense.
Faulkner, second in the league with 4.9 assists per game, is a runner and gunner. She keeps the Sky moving in transition, operates at a fast pace and is great at finding open teammates on the run.
"Our games are different, so we kind of complement each other well," Vandersloot said. "It works well to put either one of us out there."
When Vandersloot went down with an ankle injury early in the season and missed three games, Faulkner stepped in seamlessly and instantly gained the confidence of her coaches and teammates.
During that stretch, Faulkner had one of the best games of her career, putting up 17 points and 10 assists against the Los Angeles Sparks.
"I was a little nervous stepping in for Slooty, but I think that can kind of be a good thing, to have some nerves," said Faulkner, a third-round pick who beat the odds by even making the team in the first place.
Few third-rounders do in the WNBA.
"I really look up to Slooty; I admire her and her game. I've learned a lot from her about being calmed and poised," Faulkner said. "I think that helped when I had to start for her."
Vandersloot says she's always looking to learn, too, and that she's trying to steal a few things from Faulkner's game, like how Faulkner wheels and deals in traffic and how she is fast but under control in transition.
"Anything I can take from her would be great," Vandersloot said. "I love the way she can finish around the basket. It's impressive. She is really good at attacking on the run. She's good at a lot of things."
But can the two point guards be good together?
Chatman says she thinks about playing Vandersloot and Faulkner together all the time. It hasn't happened much yet, but it would appear that it's only a matter of time.
"It would be nice if we could play for some long stretches together," Vandersloot said. "That would be fun."
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