The Seattle Storm selected Jordin Canada with the fifth overall pick in the 2018 draft, with the UCLA Bruins star poised to be Sue Bird’s long-term successor. Canada proceeded to have an uneven rookie season but flashed plenty of potential as the backup point guard.
Jordin Canada By the Numbers
The Defense Never Rests
Defense was Canada’s forte when she left UCLA. She was the 2018 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and a three-time honoree on the Pac-12’s All-Defensive team. According to Her Hoops Stats, Canada also ranked 10th in steals per game (3.3) and 17th in steal rate (5.6 percent) in 2017-18.
Canada’s defensive prowess immediately translated to the WNBA.
Mercedes Russell’s rookie season got off to an inauspicious start. The 2018 second-round pick didn’t make it out of training camp for the New York Liberty. The Liberty signed her back but then released her again after two games to make room for Kia Vaughn.
But Russell’s year ended with a WNBA championship, so she had the last laugh.
Mercedes Russell By the Numbers
Crashing the Boards
Rebounding was Russell’s biggest area of strength in 2018, which isn’t all that surprising based on her senior year at Tennessee. During the 2017-18 season, she ranked in the top 11th percentile in total rebounding rate (14.3 percent), per Her Hoops Stats. She was also in the top 10 percent in offensive rebounding rate (11.1 percent) and top 16 percent in defensive rebounding rate (17.2 percent).
In terms of her individual performance, the 2018 season was a year to forget for Noelle Quinn. But winning the first WNBA title of her career made all of the sacrifices worth it.
Noelle Quinn By the Numbers
Break in Case of Emergency
When the Seattle Storm re-signed Quinn in February, her role on the team was pretty clear even though the team was two months away from selecting Jordin Canada in the 2018 draft.
“Noelle brings a veteran leadership presence to our team that is invaluable,” Storm general manager Alisha Valavanis said in the team’s press release. “Her experience in the WNBA, leadership on the court and basketball IQ will continue to be a resource for our team.”
Whether Valavanis knew at that point Canada was the preferred target, Seattle wasn’t going to settle on Quinn as the backup point guard behind Sue Bird.
What do you get the team that has everything? Seattle Storm general manager Alisha Valavanis and head coach Dan Hughes are about to find out as they look to build on a 2018 season in which the Storm were WNBA champions for the third time.
Incremental change was the theme of the 2018 offseason.
Valavanis didn’t panic after a season in which Seattle finished eighth and fired its head coach in the middle of the year.
The Storm could’ve taken a chance on a young first-year head coach. Instead, they hired Hughes, one of the most experienced coaches in WNBA history.
And rather than shaking up the roster, Valavanis signed eight-year veteran Courtney Paris and acquired Natasha Howard in a sign-and-trade with the Minnesota Lynx. Howard was a revelation in her first year with the team and the missing piece of the proverbial puzzle, but it didn’t look like Seattle got demonstrably better ahead of the 2018 campaign.
The Seattle Storm are going to the 2018 WNBA Finals.
Seattle defeated the Phoenix Mercury 94-84 in Game 5 of the WNBA semifinals, outscoring the Mercury 35-21 in the fourth quarter, on Tuesday night in KeyArena.
Per usual, Breanna Stewart led the way with 28 points and seven rebounds. For long stretches, Stewart was single-handedly keeping the Storm afloat on offense as the team struggled with Phoenix’s suffocating defense.
Sue Bird was the big star, though, finishing with 22 points, including 14 in the final frame. Bird gave the Storm a 79-76 lead with 4:01 remaining, and her three-pointer with 2:51 left to put Seattle ahead by eight was essentially the death blow for the Mercury.
Diana Taurasi—who ICYMI was unbeaten in winner-take-all elimination games—had 17 points, while Brittney Griner posted 21 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
The Seattle Storm drew first blood in their 2018 WNBA playoff semifinal series against the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday at KeyArena in Seattle.
Hours after she was named the 2018 WNBA MVP, Breanna Stewart scored 28 points to lead all players. She was particularly deadly from beyond the arc, hitting six of her nine three-pointers.
Jewell Loyd also had 23 points, thus making Seattle 11-0 this season when she eclipses the 20-point mark. Like Stewart, Natasha Howard commemorated her Most Improved Player Award with a big game, scoring 20 points and collecting five rebounds.
For the Mercury, DeWanna Bonner and Diana Taurasi scored 27 and 25 points apiece, but Brittney Griner battled foul trouble for much of the game, thus limiting her impact on the floor. She finished with 13 points and four rebounds.
Game 2 is scheduled for Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET in Seattle.
The Seattle Storm maintained a two-game lead on the Atlanta Dream with an 81-72 win over the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday in Minneapolis.
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Natasha Howard relished the opportunity to once again embarrass her old team. She led the Storm with 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting. Breanna Stewart had 17 points and a season-high 17 rebounds, which also tied her career high.
The Lynx own the fourth-best defensive rating in the WNBA (99.0), but the Storm shot 47.1 percent from the field as a team and were 11-of-25 on three-pointers.
It was another big win for Seattle as it looks to lock down the No. 1 seed in the WNBA playoffs.