When adding it together with the rest of their offseason, the Seattle Storm couldn’t have been more on-brand on draft night.
Seattle selected 6’4″ Australian forward Ezi Magbegor with the 12th overall pick. The 19-year-old averaged 55.8 percent from the field, with all of her 120 shot attempts coming from inside the arc. She also appeared in four games for Australia at the 2018 FIBA World Cup, averaging 7.6 points and 3.8 boards.
In the Storm’s official press release about the 2019 draft, general manager Alisha Valavanis confirmed Magbegor won’t actually join the Storm until 2020.
The Storm’s roster appears to be set for the most part, so Magbegor being a nonfactor for the moment opens up a spot for somebody who might have otherwise lost out ahead of the 2019 WNBA season.
No Seattle Storm player provided more versatility than Alysha Clark, a 5’11” forward who can guard four positions and score from all three levels. Under Dan Hughes, Clark finally maximized her potential in the WNBA.
Alysha Clark By the Numbers
Adapt and Survive
Without diving too deeply into overused cliches and platitudes, Clark is an example of perseverance paying off.
In an interview with ESPN’s Holly Rowe immediately after winning the WNBA Finals, Clark recounted how she had struggled to find her role in the league. At one point, she wondered whether she’d have any long-term future in Seattle.
At the time, Courtney Paris was the Seattle Storm’s biggest addition of the offseason. Natasha Howard proved to be the more impactful free-agent signing, but Paris delivered exactly what Seattle needed in her first season.
Courtney Paris By the Numbers
Cleaning the Glass
The Storm signed Paris to address what was one of their biggest issues in 2017. Seattle ranked 11th in total rebounds, averaging 31.0 boards per game. The team was also last in offensive rebounding rate (20.8 percent), 10th in defensive rebounding rate (71.1 percent) and 11th in total rebounding rate (47.5 percent).
Fortunately, one of the WNBA’s greatest rebounders was sitting right there on the open market.
The 2018 season was the perfect antidote for Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis following a 2017 campaign in which she battled both a knee injury and erratic playing time.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis By the Numbers
Since You’ve Been Gone
With the passage of time, it looks even more like Jenny Boucek simply didn’t favor Mosqueda-Lewis—for whatever reason.
Under Dan Hughes, Mosqueda-Lewis started four games—compared to one start through her first three years—and played a career-high 442 minutes. She also played at least 15 minutes in 12 of her 33 appearances, up from three times in 18 games in 2017.
Mosqueda-Lewis appeared to find a comfort zone with Hughes at the helm. She shot 42.0 percent from three-point range—her previous best was 35.4 percent—and 41.2 percent from the field. The latter figure was a step backward from 2017 (45.6 percent), but that was largely a byproduct of Mosqueda-Lewis taking more of her shots from the perimeter. Her three-point attempt rate climbed from 50.0 percent to 54.7 percent, per Basketball Reference.
Crystal Langhorne had to fall so the Seattle Storm could rise.
Langhorne opened as the Storm’s starting center in 2018 but quickly lost her job to Natasha Howard. Howard proved to be the missing piece of the puzzle for the Storm en route to winning the WNBA’s Most Improved Player Award. Langhorne, meanwhile, never adapted to her bench role and finished with the worst statistical season of her WNBA career.
Give Storm head coach Dan Hughes credit for wasting little time demoting a veteran who made 135 starts for Seattle over four years. He recognized the team wasn’t going to win a title if it continued using Langhorne as the first option at center.
Far too often the Storm got exposed against elite centers in 2017 as Langhorne was completely overmatched. She’s an underrated defender, but she’s always going to be at a disadvantage when she’s guarding Brittney Griner, Sylvia Fowles, Tina Charles, etc.
Sami Whitcomb came from out of nowhere to become a role player for the Storm in her rookie year in 2017. She signed a multi-year extension with Seattle in February and experienced a somewhat up and down sophomore season in the WNBA.
However, Whitcomb raised her game in the postseason, earning plenty of plaudits in the process.
Sami Whitcomb By the Numbers
Perhaps it was unrealistic to expect the typical Year 2 jump from Whitcomb when she wasn’t a typical second-year player. Whitcomb was 29 when the 2018 season tipped off, an age where players have not only hit their ceilings but generally start falling off a bit.