Chicago Sky head coach and general manager James Wade has been named the 2022 WNBA Basketball Executive of the Year, the league announced Monday.
He earns the honor for his work as the team’s general manager. He is the third coach/GM to receive the award, which has been handed out since 2017, and the first Black winner.
James Wade wins the @WNBA's Basketball Executive of the Year award after leading the @chicagosky to their best regular season record in franchise history. pic.twitter.com/vc6MjH3l15— Just Women’s Sports (@justwsports) August 22, 2022
James Wade wins the @WNBA's Basketball Executive of the Year award after leading the @chicagosky to their best regular season record in franchise history. pic.twitter.com/vc6MjH3l15
One executive from each WNBA team votes on the award. Wade was named on the most ballots (11), while Atlanta’s Dan Padover, who has won it the last two years, came in second with seven. Washington’s Mike Thibault was named on six ballots and finished in third.
With Wade at the helm, the defending WNBA champion Sky finished tied for the league’s best record (26-10) in the regular season. They also recorded the highest winning percentage in franchise history at .750.
As general manager, Wade put in work in the offseason, with Candace Parker as the only 2021 starter under contract. While the team lost Diamond DeShields and Stefanie Dolson, the Sky re-signed 2021 WNBA Finals MVP Kahleah Copper, six-time league assists leader Courtney Vandersloot and two-time WNBA Sixth Player of the Year Allie Quigley.
To offset the losses of DeShields and Dolson, Wade also made some splashy signings.
Former Finals MVP Emma Meesseman opted to sign with the team in her return to the league — giving the team three former Finals MVPs. She averaged 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.4 steals per game while being named to the WNBA All-Star team.
Additionally, Wade signed Rebekah Gardner to a contract from the EuroLeague. Gardner, in her rookie season at 31 years old, was a boost for the team as well. She averaged 8.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game.
The team also added Julie Allemand, Li Yueru and a 2023 first-round draft pick through trades.