As she approaches her second season in the WNBA, Alexis Peterson appears to be no closer to earning a regular role for the Seattle Storm.
Peterson remained on the fringe of the Storm’s rotation as a rookie in 2017. She appeared in just half of the team’s regular-season games and played a total of 121 minutes.
It’s easy to blame Peterson’s lack of playing time largely on former head coach Jenny Boucek. Boucek leaned heavily on her starters and struggled to develop the talent at her disposal beyond Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd. But Peterson’s duties didn’t drastically increase after Seattle fired Boucek and made Gary Kloppenburg the interim head coach.
No WNBA team may face more pressure to upgrade this offseason than the Seattle Storm. There are no more excuses should the Storm fail to at least earn a home game in the opening round of the playoffs.
Heading into the 2017 campaign, both espnW.com’s Mechelle Voepel and WNBA.com’s Brian Martin ranked Seattle fifth in their preseason power rankings.
But the 2017 season was nothing short of a disaster. Firing Jenny Boucek in the middle of the year provided momentary relief, but it couldn’t prevent the seemingly inevitable first-round exit—this time at the hands of the Phoenix Mercury.
It was a fitting coda to a disappointing year. Brittney Griner had 23 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, while the Storm scored 19 points outside of their big three (Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd and Sue Bird). All season long, Seattle struggled to guard elite post scorers, and the team’s lack of depth behind Stewart, Loyd and Bird was glaring.
More of the same in 2018 would mean wasting another year of Stewart and Loyd’s development—as well as what’s left of Bird’s playing career. It shouldn’t be a stretch to say general manager/team president Alisha Valavanis should also be out of a job. At some point, the front office has to point to more than just selecting Loyd and Stewart first overall in 2015 and 2016.
When the Seattle Storm announced Gary Kloppenburg would replace Jenny Boucek as head coach, it was seemingly a stopgap move to get the team through to the end of the season, at which point general manager and team president Alisha Valavanis could launch a full coaching search.
Since Kloppenburg assumed the reins, though, the Storm are 4-1. Whereas missing out on the playoffs seemed a genuine threat, Seattle is comfortably inside the top eight and looking like a dangerous matchup in the first round. And with each win, the case to make Kloppenburg the permanent replacement grows stronger.