The Seattle Storm enter the 25th WNBA season as the defending champs, but they’ve lost some valuable pieces of the puzzle. Natasha Howard, Alysha Clark, and Sami Whitcomb have all moved on. That doesn’t mean that a title defense isn’t in the cards, though. Over the offseason they’ve added Candice Dupree, Katie Lou Samuelson, Kennedy Burke, and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan to the core group of Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird, Jewell Loyd. As they attempt to integrate that new talent and repeat, here are the biggest questions facing the team.
The Storm were one of the best defensive teams all last season with Natasha Howard and Alysha Clark leading the charge. With both of those defensive stalwarts long gone, the Storm will need to find players to step up. It remains to be seen who will be in the starting lineup to take Howard and Clark’s place. Dupree, Samuelson, Burke, and Herbert Harrigan will all battle to fill those formidable shoes. How well these new pieces mesh with the remaining core on defense could mean the difference between an elite defensive unit and one that makes a repeat much more difficult.
Adding Dupree to the Mix
Dupree is a seven-time All-Star and veteran that should fit nicely with the Storm. She won a WNBA championship back in 2014 with the Phoenix Mercury, so she knows what it takes to get the job done. She’s a high IQ player, and an efficient scorer. Dupree is averaging 14.4 points per game for her career on 49% shooting from the field. On offense, look for Seattle to find mismatches that allow Dupree to get lots of easy baskets.
Anytime you add and lose players, chemistry can become an issue. The team’s core should be fine as Bird, Loyd, and Stewart know how to play with each other, but they will need to incorporate the new pieces. The Storm’s offense was terrific last year, finishing second in points, averaging 87.5 points per game. Seattle was also first in assists with 21.9 per game. The Storm play an unselfish brand of basketball, it should be easy for Samuelson, Dupree, and the other new faces to fit in nicely as long as they buy into that pass-first mentality.
Stewart and Loyd will most likely be the leading scorers, with Dupree and Bird being the secondary scoring options. The newer players will need to understand their new roles so they can integrate seamlessly when they step on the court.
It will be interesting to see if the Storm can repeat as champions.
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