Diamond DeShields’ Chicago Sky Legacy


An All-Star selection, a WNBA championship, and four years later, Diamond DeShields is leaving the only WNBA team she ever played for.

On Feb. 3, the Chicago Sky announced they dealt DeShields to the Phoenix Mercury via sign-and-trade as part of a three-team trade. The Sky received Phoenix’s first-round pick in the 2023 draft and Julie Allemand from the Indiana Fever. Chicago also sent its 7th pick for the 2022 draft and its 2023 first-round pick to Indiana.

Following the official news of the trade, the Sky expressed their well-wishes for their former guard.

Toward the end of January, Annie Costabile of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that DeShields, a restricted free agent, did not see herself returning to the Sky:

“It’s not something I ever envisioned for myself or thought would happen, but things change, feelings change and people change.”

From Franchise Player To-Be to WNBA Champion

In four seasons with the Sky, DeShields averaged 13.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 27.2 minutes while shooting 40.8% from the field. 

Chicago drafted DeShields with the 3rd overall pick in the 2018 WNBA draft. After one season at North Carolina, two years at Tennessee, and a campaign with Turkey’s Cukurova, the 6-foot-1 guard seemed poised to become the future of the Sky franchise.

During her rookie season, DeShields was the team’s second-leading scorer, her 14.4 points per game trailing only Allie Quigley. Her 28.4 minutes per game were third-best on the team. But her rebounding average of 4.9 per game was especially impressive. Come the end of her rookie year, she was named to the 2018 All-Rookie team.

The following season was the breakout year for the goggles-wearing guard. She earned her first All-Star selection, started in all 34 regular-season games, and posted 16.2 points per game to lead the Sky.

“It’s super special to me to have made All-Star,” DeShields stated following her All-Star selection in 2019. “I work really hard to be in the position that I’m in, so I’m just going to take it all in and try to enjoy this moment with my other two teammates” (Courtney Vandersloot and Quigley).

That 2019 season, she also helped the Sky to its first postseason since 2016.

After her standout sophomore season, DeShields’ numbers dropped. A knee injury ended her third season early, occurring in the coronavirus-caused Wubble. She played just 13 games with no starts with averages of 6.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 17.2 minutes per game.

This past season, with the emergence of Kahleah Copper and the addition of Candace Parker, DeShields had a different role. She wasn’t the go-to player and started 22 of 32 regular-season games. But she was still an effective player, averaging 11.3 points in 26.9 minutes per game.

During the Sky’s championship run, DeShields solely came off the bench. She averaged 5.5 points in 15.2 minutes over the course of 10 playoff games. But her 34.0% from the field was a career-low for both the regular season and postseason play. 

A Skilled All-Star

In 2019, along with competing in the WNBA All-Star Game, DeShields participated in and won the Skills Challenge. She was the event’s first winner since 2010 when the last Skills Challenge took place during WNBA All-Star weekend.

The victory earned her $10,000 to donate to a charity of her choice. According to High Post Hoops, she gave the money to Hoops2o, a charitable program started by the Indiana Pacers’ Malcolm Brogdon.

“I just wanted to win,” DeShields previously said of her accolade. “I wanted to get the money and get the check for the foundation, which was really important to me because it’s a foundation for one of my close friends. Just playing for somebody else it meant more. I didn’t want to just give up in the end when I went down.”

Chicago Sky Cover Star

In September 2021, Betnijah Laney and Arike Ogunbowale joined DeShields on the cover for the premiere issue of WSLAM.

Along with a spot on the cover, the issue featured a cover story on the former Sky guard. Among other things, the article detailed her athletic upbringing to her championship aspirations — something she achieved before leaving behind her first WNBA team.

DeShields’ realized dream landed her in Twitter’s recent campaign highlighting athletes and celebrities who tweeted their dreams into existence.

The Sky is in a unique position in 2022. For the first time ever, they must defend their championship. That journey, while perhaps successful, will be a sparkle less fun without DeShields’ shine.

About Ashley Wijangco

Ashley is a Filipina American writer and Illinois journalism graduate based in the Chicago suburbs. She has a decade's worth of sports writing experience, having been published in several online publications. She writes about the Bulls, the Sky, and general NBA content for The Lead.

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