PG: Sue Bird/Renee Montgomery
SG: Jewell Loyd/Jazmine Davis
SF: Jenna O’Hea/Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis/Alysha Clark
PF: Crystal Langhorne/Ramu Tokashiki
C: Abby Bishop/Quanitra Hollingsworth/Vicky McIntyre
(Yes, I know Bishop’s not a center. Listing Langhorne there seemed equally ridiculous)
Significant additions: Loyd, Mosqueda-Lewis, Montgomery, Bishop, Tokashiki, maybe Hollingsworth.
Significant losses: Brian Agler, Tanisha Wright, Camille Little, Shekinna Stricklen, plus Noelle Quinn and Nicole Powell are gone too.
If the 12-22 season and the dip into the lottery for the first time since 2003 didn’t clue you in, the Seattle Storm’s offseason should’ve gotten the message across – it’s rebuilding time. There was a largely mutual parting of the ways with head coach Brian Agler, with assistant Jenny Boucek sliding over to take the helm of a new era in Seattle. They were given a significant boost when Jewell Loyd declared early for the draft, providing a much better return with the #1 overall pick than it looked like they’d be getting for most of the summer. With that and other pickups, the Storm at least look like they’ll be interesting in 2015, and when you’re trying to rebuild on the fly that’s about all you can ask for.
Sue Bird is still in town as the only holdover from the Storm’s championship teams. The prospect of ever seeing her running mate Lauren Jackson in a Storm jersey again diminishes every year, but Bird herself appears to be in better shape than she was last season, and will help Boucek mould this young squad. They added a backup for Bird in Renee Montgomery, who’ll have her inevitable bursts of scoring surrounded by a lot of misses and occasionally driving her coach crazy. Loyd should slide right into the starting spot vacated by Tanisha Wright, and can learn on the job. She’s a superb athlete who can create her own shot in a similar style to Deanna Nolan, although it may take her a little time to adapt to facing pro athletes who can stick with her and make her life difficult. At the other wing spots the Storm have plenty of shooting in the form of Jenna O’Hea and rookie Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who should help stretch the floor. Mosqueda-Lewis is going to have some trouble surviving defensively in the pros, but she can certainly shoot.
The Storm held on to Crystal Langhorne as their building block in the post, but it’s all change around her. Aussie post Abby Bishop spent most of her one season in Seattle sitting on the bench, but she’s had plenty of success in Australia since then and the Storm will be hoping that she’s a more mature and developed player now. Japanese forward Ramu Tokashiki is also an intriguing prospect, having flashed some impressive skills with her national team. How she’ll transition to the WNBA level is obviously up in the air, but it’s a worthwhile addition for the Storm. After being undersized for several years they’ve also tried to add some height, with Quanitra Hollingsworth returning to the league after several years focussing on Europe, and rookie Vicky McIntyre another alternative. Boucek won’t know what she’s got in this collection of posts until she gets them into real action and sees how they survive. Hopefully Langhorne can help carry the load a little more than last year while the youngsters settle in.
It could be a rocky road for the Storm this year, but there are likely to be some enjoyable highlights along the way. Seeing Loyd develop as a pro, and the possibilities in Bishop and Tokashiki, should make it worth showing up to Storm games. They’re likely to play at a significantly quicker pace than they did under Brian Agler, and the games should be more open. They probably won’t be as secure defensively, but that was breaking down last year anyway. It was time for a new generation to start moving in, and the roster looks like they’re taking it in the right direction. They just might have to swallow a fair few losses while they make the transition.