On Friday, the second part of our roundtable with Swish Appeal was published on Emma Meesseman. This time, we discussed what her future with the Chicago Sky will be like. Because of the way our editor works, I can lay out the piece on BF, which I have, but I can’t add a non-BF story to our StoryStream. You can read the entire second part of our roundtable below.
So on this Saturday of Emma Meesseman Week, I’m going to focus on one question in particular from that roundtable that could negatively affect the Sky next year, but it also affects the league as a whole.
Diamond, Lyndie and I didn’t answer every question in the second part of the roundtable. After all, many of us may say the same lines over and over again. But I wanted to highlight the last question, which focuses on the European heavy roster the Sky has this season.
Chicago already has three European WNBA players who played in Women’s EuroBasket last year: Meesseman, who plays for Belgium, Julie Allemand who also plays for the Belgian Cats and Astou Ndour-Fall, who plays for Spain. That number goes up to five when starting guards Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley, who have previously played for Hungary, are included.
SA writer Eric Nemchock wrote something that I think resonates with both the WNBA and the NBA: team staff must be tuned into the international game because it’s an additional way for teams to get talent besides simply looking at college basketball games, which is how most WNBA rookies are evaluated. This is his response to the question on a European-heavy Sky roster.
One thing I’ve learned as a WNBA fan is how important it is for coaches and GMs to have international ties — not just coaching experience or friends in high places but also legitimate trust in international basketball circles. [Head coach] James Wade has all of that, which is a major reason why Meesseman will be coming to Chicago in the first place. At the same time, I think you have to weigh each player’s circumstances differently because no two national programs operate in exactly the same way. It’s just something WNBA coaches need to deal with year in and year out.
SA site manager Zack Ward and I were much warier of the Sky taking this route. While there is no Women’s EuroBasket this year, this roster as constructed, is bound to be disrupted by 2023 when EuroBasket happens,
The WNBA’s prioritization clauses will start to kick in 2023, where players can be fined for coming to training camp late due to overseas play, but in general, players will not be suspended for national team commitments. The intent is to keep WNBA players from playing overseas so they can be more visible during the winter months and increase marketing opportunities here in the USA.
However, some superstar players like Breanna Stewart, are pushing back against it, because she wants to make as much money as possible playing here and for UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia. It will be interesting to see what free agency in 2023 looks like if multiple superstars decide to stay overseas.
It’s also notable that many of the best paying women’s professional basketball teams are often in autocratic countries like Russia and China, who both have increasingly adversarial relationships with the U.S. Just putting that out there.
Anyway, do you think WNBA teams can depend on a high number of European players, over the long term, especially with prioritization coming up next year? Let us know in the comments below.