Chicago Sky General Manager and Head Coach James Wade has been named the 2022 WNBA Basketball Executive of the Year, the WNBA announced this week. For his work in the general manager role, Wade has earned the honor as the league’s top basketball executive for the first time.
The voting panel to determine the WNBA Basketball Executive of the Year was composed of one basketball executive from each WNBA team. Each executive submitted a ballot with a first-place vote, second-place vote and third-place vote. Wade won the award by being named on the most ballots (11). Atlanta Dream General Manager and Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Dan Padover (seven ballots) and Washington Mystics General Manager and Head Coach Mike Thibault (six ballots) finished in second and third place, respectively.
Under the direction of Wade, the defending WNBA champion Sky finished tied for the best record in the WNBA (26-10) in the regular season and posted the highest winning percentage in franchise history (.722).
After entering the past offseason with only one returning starter (Candace Parker) under contract for the 2022 season, Wade and the Sky re-signed 2021 WNBA Finals MVP Kahleah Copper, six-time league assists leader Courtney Vandersloot and two-time Kia WNBA Sixth Player of the Year Allie Quigley.
Wade also added forward Emma Meesseman and rookie guard Rebekah Gardner as free-agent signings. Meesseman, who joined Parker and Copper to give the Sky three former WNBA Finals MVPs in the starting lineup, averaged 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.4 steals and was selected as a WNBA All-Star. Gardner, who made her WNBA debut this season at age 31, averaged 8.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals.
In offseason trades, Wade and the Sky also acquired guard Julie Allemand from the Indiana Fever, a 2023 first-round draft pick from the Phoenix Mercury and the rights to center Li Yueru from the Los Angeles Sparks.
Behind four 2022 WNBA All-Stars in Copper, Meesseman, Parker and Vandersloot, Chicago led the WNBA in field goal percentage (48.1) and assists (24.3 apg) and ranked second in scoring (86.3 ppg) and blocked shots (4.3 bpg) this season.
The Sky hired Wade as general manager and head coach in November 2018. In his first season with Chicago, he was named the 2019 WNBA Coach of the Year to become the first Sky head coach to win the annual award.
Joseph Phillips is the Sports Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. He is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 17 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q&A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago.