Mercedes Russell’s rookie season got off to an inauspicious start. The 2018 second-round pick didn’t make it out of training camp for the New York Liberty. The Liberty signed her back but then released her again after two games to make room for Kia Vaughn.
But Russell’s year ended with a WNBA championship, so she had the last laugh.
Mercedes Russell By the Numbers
Crashing the Boards
Rebounding was Russell’s biggest area of strength in 2018, which isn’t all that surprising based on her senior year at Tennessee. During the 2017-18 season, she ranked in the top 11th percentile in total rebounding rate (14.3 percent), per Her Hoops Stats. She was also in the top 10 percent in offensive rebounding rate (11.1 percent) and top 16 percent in defensive rebounding rate (17.2 percent).
What do you get the team that has everything? Seattle Storm general manager Alisha Valavanis and head coach Dan Hughes are about to find out as they look to build on a 2018 season in which the Storm were WNBA champions for the third time.
Incremental change was the theme of the 2018 offseason.
Valavanis didn’t panic after a season in which Seattle finished eighth and fired its head coach in the middle of the year.
The Storm could’ve taken a chance on a young first-year head coach. Instead, they hired Hughes, one of the most experienced coaches in WNBA history.
And rather than shaking up the roster, Valavanis signed eight-year veteran Courtney Paris and acquired Natasha Howard in a sign-and-trade with the Minnesota Lynx. Howard was a revelation in her first year with the team and the missing piece of the proverbial puzzle, but it didn’t look like Seattle got demonstrably better ahead of the 2018 campaign.
The Seattle Storm picked up another big win Friday against the Connecticut Sun, handing the Sun their third straight loss in an 103-92 victory.
Breanna Stewart nearly had a double-double, scoring 23 points and grabbing nine rebounds, while Natasha Howard had a team-high 25 points. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis also delivered 18 points off the bench to make up for inefficient performances by Sue Bird and Jewell Loyd, who combined to shoot 6-of-25.
Although the Sun only shot 8-of-26 from beyond the arc, they had a lot of success inside. Chiney Ogwumike had 30 points on 13-of-16 shooting, while Jasmine Thomas poured in 29 points.
After being outscored 19-10 in the fourth quarter, the Seattle Storm were able to hang on for a 101-74 win Thursday night against the Las Vegas Aces.
The Storm broke a WNBA record by hitting 17 three-pointers, which came on just 26 attempts. It was that kind of night for Seattle as the team could hardly put a foot wrong. Jewell Loyd scored 20 points, her fifth straight 20-point scoring game, while Breanna Stewart led the team with 21 points.
A’ja Wilson was excellent on offense (21 points), but the Aces continued to struggle with three-point shooting. Las Vegas was 1-of-9 from beyond the arc.