2022 WNBA season preview: Seattle Storm want to win it for Sue Bird

As pointed out in our power rankings, over the previous 4 seasons the Seattle Storm are 2-for-2 winning the champion when Breanna Stewart has actually been healthy for the playoffs. The top of their lineup isn’t going to be an issue, with Stewart being No. 2 in our Top 30 and No. 1 in ESPN’s Top 25 and Jewell Loyd being No. 5 on Swish Appeal and No. 6 on ESPN. Sue Bird, who got choose Swish Appeal, was No. 16 on ESPN. I was not one of the authors providing Bird a vote, however I concur with ESPN’s evaluation based upon the very first half of last season if you take effectiveness into account and not simply production.

The remainder of the Storm’s lineup is underrated. Gabby Williams is due for a breakout season after missing out on all of in 2015 and Mercedes Russell is on the increase too. Veteran additions Jantel Lavender and Briann January include depth as does fan preferred Ezi Magbegor.

For this year’s season sneak peek of the Storm, I broke down all the gamers who might still make their lineup:

Breanna Stewart — Stewart is a seasonal MVP competitor and is commonly thought about the very best gamer in the world. In 2020 she returned from a torn Achilles to the tune of 19.7 points per video game and a Finals MVP award. In 2021, it was more of the exact same with 20.3 points per video game, however she missed out on the playoffs with a foot injury and the Storm lost their 2nd round video game to ultimate runner-up Phoenix in overtime. Stewart, who is from Syracuse, N.Y., consulted with the Liberty in complimentary company, however is back playing in a city where she is cherished — where she has actually played her whole profession.

Jewell Loyd — Emerald City Jewell (likewise referred to as the Gold Mamba) escalated to No. 5 on our Top 30 list. This is an interesting time for both her and Stewart as they are both in their prime. The truth that Loyd might be even much better than in 2015 is frightening. She can score in numerous various methods and her production increased to 17.9 points per video game in 2015, almost matching Stewart. While Stewart gets her due credit as the very best gamer on the group, Loyd is a terrific prospect to take a last shot, providing Seattle several alternatives and for that reason the aspect of surprise.

Sue Bird — I had Bird ranked as the 15th finest gamer in the league on June 21 of 2021. She had actually played 14 video games approximately that point and was shooting 47.9 percent from beyond the arc and 52.3 percent from the field. Over her last 16 video games, she shot 37.1 percent from deep and 35.8 percent from the flooring. So the drop-off was quite huge, however she put Seattle’s huge 3 at an all-time fantastic level through the very first half of the season. This year is her goodbye trip. Expect her to be near the top of her video game yet once again. Her consistency is unbelievable; she has actually balanced a minimum of 9.8 points and 4 helps in each of her 18 seasons.

Gabby Williams — Williams is a terrific young skill who can be explosive with drives and shoot from all over. She invested her very first 3 years with the Sky, balancing 7.3, 5.6 and 7.7 points, respectively. She was traded to the Sparks for the 2021 season, a season they currently understood she would miss out on due to French National Team dedications. She was then traded to Seattle on Feb. 3 of this year in exchange for Katie Lou Samuelson and the No. 9 choice in the 2022 draft.

Mercedes Russell — Russell’s basket portion escalated in 2015. She was 2nd in the league at 61.7 percent, routing just the fantastic Sylvia Fowles. Russell is still simply 26 years of ages and has a great deal of capacity. She is thought about to be much better than her statistics (career-high scoring average is 7.5) show and might turn into one of the much better starting centers in the league.

Jantel Lavender — Lavender is a one-time All-Star, having actually made the video game in 2015 when she balanced 14.5 points and 8.3 rebounds. She played her very first 8 seasons with the Sparks prior to playing 2019 with the Sky and in 2015 with the Fever. She was not able to have as huge an effect on the Fever as they may have hoped, balancing simply 6.4 points in 20 minutes per video game. But she’s a terrific mid-range shooter as a 6-foot-4 forward and might offer some scoring pop for the Storm.

Briann January — January is likewise a one-time All-Star (2014) and is a one-time champ (2012), both with the Fever. Last year she made the All-Defensive First Team at age 34; it was her seventh-career All-Defensive honor and her very first considering that six-straight from 2012 to 2017. Sun coach Curt Miller continuously praised her for closing down opposing groups’ star scorers, which the Storm will likewise search for her to do. January’s career-high scoring average is 10.3 and she can tearing down 3s (38.1 percent).

Ezi Magbegor — Magbegor is a young gamer that a great deal of individuals are delighted about. She pleased in her novice season in the wubble, balancing 6.5 points in 13.3 minutes per video game as a 20-year-old. Last year she installed comparable numbers and did an excellent task when entrusted with securing a few of the very best bigs in the league. She belongs to the Australian National Team.

Stephanie Talbot — Also a member of the Australian National Team, Talbot began 9 video games for the Storm in 2015 and balanced 17.9 minutes. She is a 6-foot-2 wing who can drive and strike 3s. She in fact shot a great 41.5 percent from deep in 2015. She was seventh on the group in minutes per video game last and might be a crucial rotation gamer once again.

Epiphanny Prince — Prince is an accomplished guard who balanced double-figure scoring 6 out of 7 years at one point in her profession, consisting of 18.1 points per video game in 2012. She has actually made 2 All-Star video games. However, her production in 2 years in Seattle has actually been really low. At age 34, she’s not the exact same gamer she utilized to be.

Kennedy Burke — Burke tore it up overseas this offseason, ending up 8th in EuroLeague ladies with 16.9 points per video game. That efficiency has actually made her a difficult gamer to cut viewing as her skill might equate back into the WNBA. She likewise had a quite strong wubble season with the Fever where she balanced 7.2 points per video game. In the wubble she in fact implicated the Storm of resting their gamers due to the fact that they didn’t believe Indiana was a risk. It’s all love now however.

Kiki Herbert Harrigan — Herbert Harrigan was a terrific shot-blocker and silently a strong scorer at South Carolina. She led a Gamecock group that had Aliyah Boston, Zia Cooke, Tyasha Harris and Destanni Henderson in scoring in 2019-20. As a WNBA novice with the Lynx in 2020, she made the periodic 3 to offer her group juice (14-of-33 from downtown), however just balanced 3.8 points per video game. She then missed out on all of 2021 due to the fact that she was pregnant. According to Em Adler (Storm beat author at The Next), Seattle might not wish to cut Herbert Harrigan, who was the No. 6 general choice in 2020, however they might need to.

Elissa Cunane — An impressive college gamer at NC State who fell much lower than anticipated when she addressed No. 17 on draft night. If she makes the group, she might wind up being a take for the Storm. She’s a terrific well-rounded standard center who can likewise march and struck the 3.

Evina Westbrook — A crucial gamer for UConn throughout their go to the championship game video game this previous season. She began at Tennessee prior to ending up being a Husky. She balanced a career-best 14.9 points per video game and shot a career-best 38.2 percent from beyond the arc as Lady Vol in 2018-19. Her numbers decreased at UConn, however she is a huge, athletic guard.

Paisley Harding — Harding had 28 points, consisting of a crucial 6-0 private run that assisted BYU return in the 4th, versus Rutgers in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. So she’s a clutch entertainer. She balanced 17.3 points and shot 38.3 percent from outdoors with 2.3 makes per video game this previous season. She’s a 5-foot-9 guard.

Raina Perez — Perez balanced 20.3 points at Cal State Fullerton in 2019-20 and an outstanding 4.9 helps at a Power 5 school in NC State in 2020-21. So she’s got all the tools to be a terrific point player, however her height (5-foot-4) is going to work versus her making the Storm lineup.

Jade Melbourne — Melbourne is a 5-foot-10 19-year-old guard from Australia who went 33rd in the draft and stays anonymous. She balanced 12.6 points, 5 rebounds and 3.4 helps at the U19 World Cup.

Jenna Giacone — Giacone is a 6-foot-1 guard out of Dayton who went undrafted. She balanced 13 points this previous season with the Flyers and shot 38.8 percent from 3 with 1.7 makes per video game.

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