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
- 2.1 PPG
- 3.9 RPG
- 0.3 BPG
- .533 FG%
- 13.0 ORB%
- 29.2 DRB%
- 21.4 TRB%
- 97.3 ORtg
- 93.6 DRtg
- 1.4 WS
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.
“Courtney brings a presence inside that we have been eager to add to the roster,” general manager Alisha Valavanis said in the Storm’s press release confirming Paris’ signing.Her ability to rebound the basketball is a great strength.”
Entering 2018, Paris was averaging just under 6.1 rebounds per game. That doesn’t seem impressive but didn’t speak to how effective she was on the boards. Her 20.2 percent total rebounding rate was second-best in league history.
Despite being 30 and coming off an injury-riddled 2017 campaign, Paris continued to be her usual self. She collected 13.3 rebounds per 36 minutes and had a 21.4 percent rebounding rate, according to Basketball Reference. Both of those figures were highest on the team. In addition, only Sylvia Fowles averaged more rebounds per 40 minutes (14.9) than Paris (14.8), per WNBA.com.
Not coincidentally, the Storm made huge improvements on the glass. They climbed to fifth in rebounds (35.4 per game), and the advanced metrics were slightly more favorable. Seattle was seventh in OREB% (25.0), fourth in DREB% (75.2) and fourth in TRB% (51.0).
Occasionally, an offseason move looks good on paper but turns out horribly when the season begins. In Paris’ case, she was everything the Storm could’ve hoped for and more.
Minimal Role, Maximum Impact
Here’s the most succinct way to summarize the totality Paris’ contributions. She was ninth on the team in minutes played (360) yet sixth in win shares (1.4).
Last July, FanSided’s Miles Wray called Paris a No-Stats All-Star:
Paris is a nine-year veteran in the league and in her first as the backup center for the Seattle Storm. The first numbers one might look at are uninspiring: 11.2 minutes and 2.2 points per game on the year. This has been a trend in Paris’ career, as she’s only been a regular starter in three of those nine seasons. Still, a bit of digging into the stats and, more crucially, watching Paris operate on the Storm, and it’s clear that Paris is in the same position that Battier was in before 2009. Not only is she a No-Stats All-Star, but nobody even realizes it yet.
In addition to her otherworldly 13.3 rebounds, Paris averaged 7.3 points, 2.2 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.9 blocks. Not only did she excel at cleaning the glass but also offered a little bit of everything else. To put a different spin on the old cliche, she was a jack of all trades and a master of one.
In his piece, Wray posited Paris would be a massive luxury for Seattle in the postseason as a way to counteract any one of the WNBA’s numerous elite post players during a playoff series. His logic was sound, but reality proved to be the complete opposite.
Paris played a total of 15 minutes over four games in the playoffs. Dan Hughes basically utilized an eight-woman rotation against the Phoenix Mercury and Washington Mystics. That left Paris, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Mercedes Russell and Noelle Quinn on the outside looking in.
With regard to Paris specifically, Hughes clearly valued the athleticism and floor-spacing Howard and Breanna Stewart provided over trying to neutralize Griner with a more traditional center. And against the WNBA Finals, Mike Thibault couldn’t hide an injured Elena Delle Donne on defense against Paris.
It’s hard to argue with the results of Hughes’ approach.
Paris made Hughes’ job easier with her willingness to be a nonentity during the most important games of the season. She didn’t play more than four minutes in any of the five semifinal games, and she had six total minutes in the Finals, all of which came in Seattle’s Game 1 win.
This was a player into her ninth season and a regular starter for the Dallas Wings before her knee injury. Along the same lines, Hughes had the guts to move the fifth-highest-paid player out of the rotation. Paris in that sense mirrored Crystal Langhorne, who moved to the bench to accommodate Howard after the season-opener and then averaged just over 10 minutes in the Storm’s eight playoff games.
Stewart, Howard, Jewell Loyd and Sue Bird deservedly get the most credit for Seattle’s championship run. But Paris helped turn what were two of the team’s biggest weaknesses—depth and rebounding—into clear strengths in the regular season. Then she accepted her demotion in the postseason to allow the Storm to maximize their matchup advantages.
The Storm have little reason to change Paris’ usage much in 2019. She might actually see a slightly lesser role, depending on how highly Hughes and Valavanis value Mercedes Russell and what they do with their first-round draft pick.