PG: Sue Bird/Blake Dietrick
SG: Jewell Loyd/Monica Wright
SF: Alysha Clark/Jenna O’Hea/Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis
PF: Breanna Stewart/Ramu Tokashiki
C: Crystal Langhorne/Abby Bishop/Markeisha Gatling
Dietrick beat out Tiffany Bias as Bird’s backup, a final cut made minutes before publication.
Significant additions: Stewart, obviously, the latest player offered up as the saviour of the WNBA. They’ll also be seeing Wright in a Storm uniform for the first time, after adding her in a trade last season while she was injured.
Significant losses: Basically nothing, but from a bad team.
Y’know what’s good about being terrible? The US sports system tries to help you out. And sometimes you fall ass-backwards into a superstar or two. Jewell Loyd was the first significant piece of the Storm rebuild last year, after she declared early and made the 2015 draft a much happier event for Seattle. A year later and another #1 pick offered up Breanna Stewart, the latest virtual can’t-miss star to emerge from the University of Connecticut. Just like when Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird arrived in consecutive drafts over a decade earlier, the Storm now have key building blocks in place for their team to form around. The only question is how long it’s going to take for everything to fall into place.
It’s possible that it might take Stewart a little while to fit into the pro game. She’s a little like Elena Delle Donne in her ability to score from inside and out, and her surprising fluidity for someone of her size. She doesn’t quite have the handle of Delle Donne, but based on college performance she’s significantly more prepared to help on the defensive end than Delle Donne was when she turned pro. She’ll have an immediate and significant impact, even while Jenny Boucek and the Storm are working out exactly how best to use her. Loyd took a while to settle as a rookie, and still needs to work on her outside shot so that teams stop sagging way off her to combat her speed and athleticism. But after a strong European season under a bright spotlight with Galatasaray, she should be ready to flourish in her second year. The defensive attention Stewart will draw can only help Loyd.