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Seattle's Perfect Storm Enters Super Team Era

In the WNBA, the chase is on to once again de-throne the Las Vegas Aces. The back-to back defending champions are becoming a dynasty in the league. In the Pacific Northwest, the Seattle Storm are coming off a rebuilding season where they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2015. Free agency was the Storm's attempt to re-shape their roster, and it's safe to say they succeeded.

The first major signing was former Phoenix Mercury point guard Skylar Diggins-Smith. She is a six-time all-star, and made first team All-WNBA four times in her career. Regarded as one of the best in the league at her position, she took last season off after having her second child. In 2022, she averaged 19.7 points, 5.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game with shooting splits of 42.9/29.6/84.4%. She is known as a hard-nosed, scrappy veteran player and that's exactly what Seattle needs. Diggins-Smith also fills their point guard vacancy primarily left by Storm Legend, Sue Bird. They experimented with many options last season, but none were able to make them competitive. Diggins-Smith provides a sense of security filling in that spot with the ability to make everyone she plays with better. She takes the pressure off of franchise star Jewell Loyd, which should give her more opportunity to shine in her role. Even with a new point guard, the Storm's work in free agency was not done as they added another key piece to the roster.

Seattle added another all-star when they signed forward Nneka Ogwumike (NEH-kuh Oh-gwoo-MIH-kay) from the Los Angeles Sparks. She spent 12 years with the Sparks, and desired a change of scenery when she chose the Storm. Ogwumike will slide into the power forward spot vacated by superstar Breanna Stewart, who left in 2023 for the New York Liberty. She won the 2016 MVP award, along with being a six-time all star and WNBA Champion in her career. Last season she averaged 19.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.7 steals, and she shot 51.2% from the field and 33.9% from downtown. Seattle added a savvy veteran in the front court next to first-time all-star Ezi Magbegor (Eh-Zee Mag-Beh-Gore) who is coming off an all around career year. These additions significantly raise the Storm's ceiling and they both came for one common reason.

In their introductory press conference, both Diggins-Smith and Ogwumike claimed they wanted to team up with Loyd. When asked why Diggins-Smith had the Storm as her top priority, she answered "I want to play with Jewell". Before the end of last season, Loyd re-signed with Seattle for two more years. Diggins-Smith wanted to play with her former college teammate, and that speaks to how valuable of a move bringing Loyd back was. Ogwumike echoed the same sentiment saying "When you have people who are selfless like that and people who are dangerously disciplined like (Loyd and herself) and respect the game and you have a coach that also embodies all of those characteristics, you can expect good basketball." These two players give head coach Noelle Quinn so many more tools to work with, which should make her better as a coach.

Jordan Horston is coming into her second season after making WNBA first team All-Rookie, and she has the veterans around her to constantly learn and improve. She will likely start with Ogwumike, Magbegor, Loyd, and Diggins-Smith. These moves also provide the Storm with depth, something they lacked last season. Their point guards consist of 21-year-old Jade Melbourne and 35-year-old Sami Whitcomb (Sa-Mee Wit-KM). Melbourne will be the biggest beneficiary to be able to learn from a veteran like Diggins-Smith, and earning more playing time this season. Seattle's post depth has become interesting with Ogwumike on the roster. Behind her is Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu (Dull-See Fan-Come Men-gee-AH-due) the second year big from South Florida, Joyner Holmes, and veteran Mercedes Russell. This rotation will be the most interesting as the Storm have great depth at something they lacked in last season. In addition the Storm signed Alaina Coates, Kaela Davis and Kiana Williams to training camp contracts. Coates is a new face for Seattle while Davis and Williams return for another shot at making the final roster. The Storm also have the 14th and 26th picks in the highly anticipated 2024 draft featuring superstar Caitlin Clark.

While Storm fans should wait before they plan for their championship parade, the season has become a lot more exciting and that first game on May 14th is among the ones to mark on calendars everywhere.


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