Current roster certainties or virtual certainties:
PG: Sue Bird
SG: Tanisha Wright/Shekinna Stricklen
SF: Katie Smith
PF: Camille Little/Tina Thompson
C: (Lauren Jackson)/Ann Wauters
Fighting for the remaining three roster spots: Silvia Dominguez, Victoria Dunlap, Ewelina Kobryn, Alysha Clark, Allie Quigley, Lindsay Taylor
Storm head coach and general manager Brian Agler pulled off an unusual feat this offseason – he traded away two established veterans for the #2 pick in the draft, and yet still managed to make this roster even older than last year. Sending Swin Cash and Le’coe Willingham to Chicago for the #2 made some sense – Seattle’s roster needed freshening up, needed some youth to build with for the future, and the cap space created allowed other moves to be made. But after everything played out, you can’t help feeling that Agler made the trade expecting at least one of the highly regarded college juniors – Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne or Skylar Diggins – to declare for the draft. If any of them had, Seattle would’ve got either that player or Nneka Ogwumike from the trade, rather than the decidedly raw Shekinna Stricklen from the University of Tennessee. Stricklen has physical gifts that obviously appealed to Agler, but watching some of her college games reminded me of Amber Harris – great size and mobility for her position, but you wonder if her head will ever catch up to her body.
The Storm also made another move that created yet more cap space, sending defensive center Ashley Robinson to Washington for forward Victoria Dunlap. All this extra cash allowed Agler to take care of his own house – re-signing Sue Bird, Tanisha Wright and Katie Smith – and then go shopping. With star Lauren Jackson spending the first half of the WNBA season in Australia preparing for the Olympics, Agler signed her Ros Casares teammate Ann Wauters as a very useful piece to cover the gap. Last seen in the WNBA with San Antonio in 2008 and 2009, Wauters has been unreliable in terms of showing up in the US, but she’s a top class big when she’s actually in town. When LJ arrives post-London, they’ll be scary in the post at both ends of the floor. Just to make them even scarier (and older, but who’s counting), Seattle also added the last remaining active player from the WNBA’s inaugural season, Tina Thompson. She’s certainly not the player she once was, but playing for a coach who actually has half a clue what he’s doing may help her rediscover some form in Seattle. There’ll be less demanded of her than there was in LA.
The three remaining spots on the roster all have strong favourites in place. Silvia Dominguez, a diminutive Spanish point guard who played with Jackson and Wauters in Europe this year has been signed to back up Sue Bird. Polish big Ewelina Kobryn returns after her half-season last year and will probably stick as the emergency post, unless someone like Lindsay Taylor really blows the doors off in camp. And finally, Victoria Dunlap seems likely to make the team as an extra project at combo-forward, partly because she flashed some talent in Washington last year, and partly because it would somewhat validate trading away Robinson. If Agler can develop Dunlap, she could also eventually be another piece in the process of turning over this roster and getting younger. Players like Allie Quigley and Alysha Clark are likely to be merely camp bodies until Agler’s prefered 11 all arrive (and in fact, if my numbers are right – and they usually are – Quigley can’t make the roster, because this is the one team in the league inches away from the salary cap threshold and she’s too expensive).