The Seattle Storm have faced a number of well-documented adversities so far in the 2019 season. Also well-documented is the play of reigning conference player of the week, Natasha Howard. Her production deserves all the attention it has received and hopefully for the Storm will continue. But Howard isn’t the only player stepping up for the Storm to start the season.
After missing the first three games of the season, Alysha Clark has really helped Seattle in the early going. Clark proved to be the difference in Tuesday night’s win against Minnesota. She poured in 16 points, five rebounds and two assists while shooting 6-of-10 from the field.
In Seattle’s first game against the Lynx, Clark did not dress and Seattle lost 72-61. While Clark provided the spark, she wasn’t the only reason for the different result. The Storm shot a blistering 59.3 percent from the field, the highest mark in a game for the franchise since July 2017. Seattle also dominated late by going on a 10-2 run in the final 3:48 of the game.
With her 11-point performance in Atlanta, Clark scored double-digit points in every game she’s played in this season. She did not play on June 1 against Chicago, a game in which Seattle fell on the road to the Sky, 83-79. Clark has been an unsung hero for the Storm so far, a season after she put up solid, yet not outstanding numbers.
A season ago she played in 31 games with 30 starts. Clark averaged 7.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.9 assists. While played a major role on last year’s championship team, she didn’t need to produce a lot of points with Sue Bird and the MVP Breanna Stewart healthy.
But Stewart is gone for the year and Bird is out for a while. If Seattle is going to have any chance of repeating, they need Alysha to increase her production. Early on, Clark has provided that much needed production.
In two games, she’s averaging 13.5 points, 5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and on 60% shooting from the field. All of Seattle’s role players have been stepping up all season, but Clark elevates Seattle’s play to another level. She’s another threat on a team that needs as many threats as they can get.
Jewell Loyd and Jordin Canada
The backcourt has the tall task of making up for Sue Bird’s production. To do so, Jewell Loyd and Jordin Canada have upped their games in a big way. Loyd has put up the same amount of double-digit scoring performances as Natasha Howard has so far in 2019 (5). Meanwhile, Jordin Canada has put 4 such games this year and provided steady point guard play. When the main threat of Howard has an “off” game or is in foul trouble, these players have stepped up big.
Case and point, Howard had to exit early in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s game and it could have allowed Minnesota to climb back in the game. In her absence, Jewell Loyd shinned as she led the team with 19 points. Jordin Canada also stepped up with a career-high 17 points.
Seattle will now face a four game road trip to Chicago, Indiana, Washington and Connecticut. These players who might not be used to be stepping up for long periods of time will be truly tested on this trip. While Howard is the leader of this team, players like Clark will be getting more and more minutes and will be relied on heavily