Record Breaker: How Courtney Vandersloot Rewrote the WNBA History Books in 2018

The numbers behind Courtney Vandersloot's dominant regular-season performance.

When you talk about WNBA point guards, there are always a few names that come up immediately. Players like Sue Bird and Lindsay Whalen are living legends nearing the tail ends of their storied careers. Meanwhile, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Chelsea Gray are two of the more talented next-generation PGs, already having built impressive resumes throughout NCAA, WNBA, and international play.

There's one point guard, though, whose name seems to keep falling through the cracks. She's been around long enough to compete against Bird and Whalen in their primes, and has since continued to elevate her game to pace the next wave of the league's top talent.

It's the Chicago Sky's Courtney Vandersloot, and she just put forth perhaps the greatest season by a point guard in WNBA history.

That may sound like hyperbole, but the numbers stack up favorably no matter which way you slice them. Vandersloot set the single-season WNBA record for total assists with 258, besting the previous mark held by Ticha Penicheiro (who, fittingly, mentored Vandersloot in the twilight of her own career) set all the way back in 2000. Making this even more impressive is that it took Vandersloot only 30 games to do so; she missed the beginning of the WNBA season finishing her commitment to the now-defunct Turkish basketball club Yakin Dogu.

It shouldn't come as much surprise, then, that the 8.60 assists per game Vandersloot recorded in 2018 also set a single-season did her 43.42% assist percentage. The 50 total assists she dished out from July 21 to July 30 were the most ever across a four-game span. She became the first WNBA player in history to score 20 points and record 15 assists in a single game when she did it on August 10. 

If that's not enough for you, consider that Vandersloot is far more than just a game manager. She also posted career-highs in true shooting percentage (60.6%) and effective field goal percentage (57.0%), according to Basketball-Reference, and was the only WNBA point guard to rank in the league's top 10 for both of those metrics. And let's not forget about the triple-double she posted on July 20 - just the seventh in league history.

All these numbers speak for themselves - it's clear that Vandersloot is one of the top point guards in the W - but let's take a deeper look behind those figures at just how she was able to have such a monster season.

For starters, the Sky want to play fast. That's not much of a secret. The team averaged about 81.3 possessions per 40 minutes, pushing the ball with athletes like Diamond DeShields, Gabby Williams, and Kahleah Copper in a very effective transition attack. That in itself is a good situation for any point guard.

But that's only the tip of the iceberg. What really made Chicago ideal for Vandersloot this season - and vice versa - was how its offense was run. More specifically, it's how it wasn't run; the Sky used just 4.9% of their possessions on post-ups in 2018, according to Synergy Sports, opting instead for basket cuts and as many transition opportunities as possible.

These intricacies gave Vandersloot plenty of room to do what she does best: push the ball, see the floor, and make breathtaking passes.

Of course, the Sky had a disappointing season overall, finishing 13-21 and missing the playoffs for the second straight year, but that shouldn't diminish Vandersloot's accomplishments. They're a young, exciting team that's in a position to compete sooner rather than later, and their ever-reliable point guard will be the one to lead them to that success.

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