This offseason, the Seattle Storm decided winning a WNBA title had simply become too easy and that it was time to raise the level of difficulty. That’s the only explanation, right?
By almost any measure, the Storm endured a tough offseason, one that left the roster weaker than it was when Seattle was celebrating a second Finals win in three years. Natasha Howard and Sami Whitcomb were traded to the New York Liberty, while Alysha Clark signed with the Washington Mystics.Kennedy Burke, Candice Dupree, Mikiah Herbert Harrigan and Stephanie Talbot arrived in their place, with 2020 first-round draft pick Kitija Laksa making the jump to the WNBA as well.
Perhaps team president Alisha Valavanis and first-year general manager Talisa Rhea could’ve been more aggressive in making short-term moves to put the Storm in as strong a position as possible to successfully defend their title. With a number of key players due to hit free agency, though, it didn’t make sense for Seattle to tie its hands financially.
Last year, the Storm were just better than everybody else. Their .818 winning percentage was the second-best in franchise history. Especially with a number of notable players across the league absent, Seattle had too much talent and too much depth to get seriously tested when it mattered. The team swept the Minnesota Lynx in the semifinals before winning three straight games over the Las Vegas Aces, who had 2020 MVP A’ja Wilson, by double digits in the WNBA Finals.
A little over eight months after their 2017 season ended at the hands of the Phoenix Mercury, the Seattle Storm will open their 2018 campaign at home May 20 against Phoenix.
Before that, the Storm and Mercury will meet twice for a pair of preseason games in May.
To some extent, Seattle’s disappointing first-round playoff exit may benefit the team this year. The Storm could be the biggest post-hype sleeper in the WNBA.
Mechelle Voepel of espnW.com and Brian Martin of WNBA.com both listed Seattle at No. 5 in their preseason power rankings in 2017. Expectations were high, and the Storm got fans even more excited with a 4-1 start to the regular season. Then came a humbling 100-77 defeat to the Minnesota Lynx at KeyArena, and things were never the same for Seattle.
In Ocean’s Eleven, Matt Damon’s character struggles to find an apt metaphor to describe another character’s legal history. Ultimately, he settles with, “Well, it’s long.”
After attempting to devise numerous ways to describe how the Seattle Storm’s bench performed in 2016, the only thing I could come up with was, “Well, it was bad.”
According to WNBA.com, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was the only bench regular to have a positive net rating. In particular, the offense became a black hole when Jenny Boucek brought on her second unit.
The Storm’s playoff loss to the Atlanta Dream encapsulated the problem. Continue reading
Prior to the selection of Breanna Stewart first overall in 2016, the 2015 draft laid the groundwork for the Seattle Storm’s rebuild. With Jewell Loyd and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis entering their third years, the duo may finally be poised to reach their potential and take the Storm to the next stage in their overall development.
Whereas Stewart immediately showed herself to be one of the WNBA’s best frontcourt players in her first season, Loyd’s gains have been more gradual.
Loyd won Rookie of the Year in 2015 after averaging 10.7 points and 1.9 assists a game. With more playing time in 2016, her scoring average climbed to 16.5 points per game, and her assists nearly doubled (3.4 per game). She earned second-team All-WNBA honors as well. Continue reading
The Seattle Storm didn’t match the Washington Mystics’ level of aggression this offseason in terms of improving the roster, but the front office sent a message with the acquisition of Carolyn Swords.
The Storm sent the sixth and 18th overall selections to the Mystics in January, receiving Swords and the 15th overall pick.
The 27-year-old addressed what was a glaring need for Seattle. Last year, the Storm often played 6’2″ Crystal Langhorne alongside 6’4″ Breanna Stewart, which left the rookie forward exposed against bigger frontcourt opponents. Continue reading