Three days after beating the Las Vegas Aces 97-83 in their 2021 WNBA season opener, the Seattle Storm will be back in action against the 2020 runners-up.
The curtain-raiser couldn’t have gone much better after a shaky start for Seattle. Early into the first quarter it appeared as if the Storm would struggle to handle Las Vegas’ frontcourt combination of A’ja Wilson and Liz Cambage. While Wilson ultimately finished with 24 points, her efforts proved to be futile as Seattle buried the Aces under a barrage of three-pointers.
As great as the defending WNBA champions looked, fans would be wise to recall the team’s start to the 2018 season. The Storm fell to the Phoenix Mercury in their opener before earning a 16-point win three days later en route to standing tall at the end of the year.
Saturday was a reminder of why Seattle could potentially lift another title despite losing Natasha Howard and Alysha Clark in the offseason. The discourse could shift a bit if the Aces bounce back with a comprehensive win Tuesday. Here are some storylines to watch.
Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters by the largest margin ever less than a year after becoming a professional. Later that season, he was victorious in the Byron Nelson Classic. He was 21 and poised to dominate the PGA Tour.
Instead, Woods decided to totally revamp his golf swing. While that meant taking a step backward in the short term as he figured things out, it laid the groundwork for one of the most dominant stretches in the sport’s history. By tweaking his swing to emphasize control over power, Woods perfected his game and ensured he would continue to stay miles ahead of the competition. If he doesn’t think proactively, then the Tiger Slam probably never happens.
On Wednesday, Seattle Storm general manager Alisha Valavanis changed the team’s swing.
Having already lost Alysha Clark to free agency, Seattle traded Natasha Howard to the New York Liberty for the No. 1 pick in the 2021 WNBA draft, the Phoenix Mercury’s 2022 first-rounder and the Liberty’s 2022 second-rounder. The Storm flipped the No. 1 pick to the Dallas Wings for Katie Lou Samuelson and a 2022 second-rounder while simultaneously sending the Phoenix pick to the Minnesota Lynx for Mikiah Herbert Harrigan. Sami Whitcomb also went to the Liberty in a sign-and-trade for the rights to Stephanie Talbot.
The Seattle Storm hanged on to beat the Atlanta Dream 93-92 on Thursday night, and one rookie has the WNBA abuzz coming out of the game.
Yes, Ezi Magbegor hit the first three-pointer of her WNBA career, leaving her only 1,116 short of breaking Diana Taurasi’s all-time record. With as quickly as Ezi is progressing, don’t be surprised if she surpasses that mark by her fourth season.
Breanna Stewart had a team-high 27 points and eight rebounds in the victory, while Jewell Loyd chipped in 20 points in what was a shaky shooting night.
The Storm simply didn’t have a solution for Chennedy Carter, who finished with 35 points. The Dream guard is undoubtedly the favorite to finish runner-up to Ezi in the 2020 Rookie of the Year race.
The Seattle Storm improved to 2-0 with a comprehensive 90-66 win over the Minnesota Lynx.
Seattle took control in the third quarter, outscoring Minnesota 28-17.
Breanna Stewart posted her first double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) of the young season. Sue Bird (16 points) was the only other player to score in double figures. Everybody who saw the court for Seattle made at least one field goal to underscore what was a balanced offensive showing.
The Lynx didn’t have that luxury, partially due to injuries. Karima Christmas-Kelly (ankle) and Lexie Brown (head) both left the game before it concluded.
Napheesa Collier, Damiris Dantas and Sylvia Fowles combined for 44 points, but Minnesota’s support beyond that was lacking.
The Seattle Storm opened the 2020 WNBA season with an 87-71 victory over the New York Liberty on Saturday.
Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird returned to the starting lineup after missing all of 2019. The WNBA also welcomed one of the most heavily hyped rookies in recent memory: Ezi Magbegor. Morgan Tuck’s Storm debut will have to wait as a knee injury kept her on the bench for the entirety of the 40 minutes.
In what might become the norm for her given her supporting cast, Sabrina Ionescu filled up the stat sheet but had a day to forget in her WNBA introduction. The Liberty as a team shot 34.8 percent from the field and 21.4 percent from beyond the arc.
While the WNBA offseason is far from over, the biggest dominoes appear to have fallen ahead of the draft in April.
Once again, the Storm have opted for a more subdued approach, an understandable strategy with Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird back from season-ending injuries. In addition, Seattle had few roster spots available, with Courtney Paris, Blake Dietrick and Shavonte Zellous the team’s only free agents.
Let’s take a look at what has happened so far and what general manager Alisha Valavanis might still have up her sleeve.
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.