Storm 2019 Season Preview: Crown Jewell

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When the haters are doubting the Storm in 2019

We’re about to see the real Jewell Loyd in 2019.

By any number of metrics, the 2018 season was the best of Loyd’s WNBA career. She was an All-Star for the first time and set personal highs in win shares (4.2), win shares per 40 minutes (.164) and net rating (14.1). She also had a .550 true shooting percentage and .501 effective field-goal percentage, both of which were career highs.

The way in which Loyd adapted her game to suit the Storm’s needs was particularly notable.

Loyd’s 24.4 usage rate was her lowest since her rookie year in 2015, and she attempted the fewest shots (12.6) since then as well. Whereas scoring accounted for a large chunk of Loyd’s contributions through her first three seasons, she focused on helping the Storm in other areas of the game in 2018. She averaged 4.6 rebounds—more than a full rebound better than her previous career high—and her defensive rating fell to 97.6 after hitting 104.7 and 103.3 in 2016 and 2017.

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Seattle Storm 2018 Player Review: Sue Bird

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Sue Bird captured the third WNBA title of her career as the Seattle Storm climbed to the WNBA’s summit earlier than expected. Along the way, Bird rolled back the years with a stunningly efficient 2018 season.

 

Sue Bird By the Numbers

  • 10.1 PPG
  • 7.1 AST
  • 1.1 SPG
  • 1.9 TPG
  • .466 FG%
  • .448 3P%
  • .604 TS%
  • .587 eFG%
  • 40.7 AST%
  • 17.5 USG%
  • 113.8 ORtg
  • 98.0 DRtg
  • 3.9 WS

 

Game 5

Sometimes in sports, the true gravity of a performance or one specific moment is only truly appreciated with the passage of time. In rare instances, you witness something special and immediately understand its larger place in history.

That was Game 5 of the 2018 WNBA semifinals.

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Forecasting the Storm’s Roster Following the 2019 WNBA Draft

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.

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Seattle Storm 2018 Player Review: Alysha Clark

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 12.43.58 PMNo 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

  • 7.4 PPG
  • 3.5 RPG
  • 1.9 APG
  • 1.0 SPG
  • .480 FG%
  • .392 3P%
  • .599 TS%
  • .564 eFG%
  • 111.9 ORtg
  • 98.9 DRtg
  • 2.5 WS

 

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.

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Seattle Storm 2018 Player Review: Courtney Paris

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When you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you

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.

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Seattle Storm 2018 Player Review: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis

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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

  • 5.1 PPG
  • 1.5 RPG
  • 0.8 APG
  • .412 FG%
  • .420 3P%
  • .545 TS%
  • .527 eFG%
  • 18.3 USG%
  • 97.0 ORtg
  • 96.9 DRtg
  • 0.7 WS

 

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.

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