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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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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Seattle Storm 2018 Player Review: Crystal Langhorne

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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.

I don’t think she ultimately worried too much.

 

Crystal Langhorne By the Numbers

  • 4.6 PPG
  • 0.7 OREB
  • 2.3 DREB
  • 0.3 APG
  • .500 FG%
  • .889 FT%
  • 5.7 OREB%
  • 18.6 DREB%
  • 12.3 REB%
  • 17.0 USG%
  • 92.9 ORtg
  • 94.8 DRtg
  • 0.5 WS

 

Sacrificing for the Greater Good

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.

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Seattle Storm 2018 Player Review: Sami Whitcomb

Screen Shot 2018-12-20 at 11.27.21 AMSami 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

  • 2.9 PPG
  • 0.5 APG
  • 0.5 SPG
  • .349 FG%
  • .362 3P%
  • .513 TS%
  • .494 eFG%
  • 95.8 ORtg
  • 99.8 DRtg
  • 0.5 WS

 

Marginal Gains

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.

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Seattle Storm 2018 Player Review: Jordin Canada

Jordin Canada BurnThe 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

  • 5.7 PPG
  • 3.3 APG
  • 1.7 TOG
  • 0.9 SPG
  • .357 FG%
  • .182 3P%
  • .446 TS%
  • 22.2 USG%
  • 29.3 AST%
  • 21.0 TO%
  • 92.7 ORtg
  • 92.6 DRtg
  • 0.4 WS

 

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.

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