It’s a new era for the Seattle Storm, one that will undoubtedly be well-led by Jewell Loyd. With three of the Storm’s top five scorers gone—Breanna Stewart to New York, Sue Bird retired, and Tina Charles unsigned—opportunities abound for players to step up and fill scoring roles, helping the Gold Mamba shoulder the load.
Loyd is tried-and-true, averaging 16.3 points (PPG), 3.4 assists (APG), and 1.1 steals per game (SPG) last year with Seattle. It’s likely we’ll see her averages increase this season, but as with any WNBA team, it’s going to take a team effort from the Storm.
It begs the question: with so many of their scorers departed, where will the Storm find these points?
Seattle has been a bastion of consistent point scoring for close to a decade. When you look down the roster, there’s incredible potential and versatility, and it’s imaginable that Storm post-game press conferences will be a bevy of win-by-committee clichés. With this newfound scoring opportunity in mind, let’s take a look at those Storm players who can best fill the role, and what offense they bring to the table.
Magbegor had a breakout season in 2022. While her size and length make her extremely versatile, it’s her hard work in improving her offensive skills that makes her athleticism sing. She’s comfortable with her back to the basket, or sprinting full speed down the court and finishing a give-and-go with two defenders on her. Last season was her best in the W, averaging 9.5 PPG, and she tied her career high with a 21-point performance against the Chicago Sky. With an increase in her average PPG, Magbegor could help fill the void Breanna Stewart left on the roster.
Nurse has the weapons to make a big impact with the Storm and alleviate some of Loyd’s scoring pressure. After averaging 9.5 PPG during the 2021 regular season, an ACL tear in the playoffs forced her to the sidelines in 2022. She’s not high-flying, but she’s patient and surgically picks apart the defense. Nurse can take her opponent off the dribble and connect from deep, either coming off a screen or creating her own shot. It wasn’t essential for Nurse to be a top scorer in Phoenix, but she was still fourth after Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins-Smith, and Diana Taurasi, all of whom can score in bunches and averaged between 15 and 20 PPG. During the 2019 season, Nurse was the Liberty’s second-leading scorer, averaging 13.7 PPG, proving she can easily handle the responsibility.
The two-time Seattle Storm champion is back after a stint in New York, where she had a breakout season in 2021. She loves the three-ball, and when she gets hot, the three-pointers keep coming. Synergy is going to be important for Whitcomb, who’ll need her teammates to find her for open looks, but she’s also skilled with the drive-and-kick herself.
With Charles seemingly not returning to Seattle, Russell should consume a large portion of Charles’ minutes from last season. She averaged 10.8 minutes per game (MPG) and 2.0 PPG last season, but her best years in the W were 2019 and 2021, when she averaged around 25 MPG, just over 7.0 PPG, and 6.0 rebounds per game (RPG). The more time she gets, the more she produces. Russell does most of her work in the paint, but if left open at the top of the key, she can knock down a 12-foot jump shot.
Plaisance, who can fill in where she’s needed, brings nine years of experience to an otherwise young roster. Though she has never been the go-to player on her team, she’s always a consistent contributor and could be called upon to provide some solid scoring in Seattle this season. She’s active around the three-point line, high post, and down on the block—another versatile, productive player that Storm head coach Noelle Quinn could put anywhere on the floor.
Last year, coming off an ACL injury during her rookie campaign, Walker suited up for 32 games for the Los Angeles Sparks in her second season in the W, averaging 8.8 MPG and 1.6 PPG. Determined to make up for lost time, she participated in Athletes Unlimited basketball this past offseason, where she averaged 12.6 PPG on 45 percent shooting. She’s on top of her game, and she’s a player that’s hungry to fill up space on the stat sheet.
Melbourne has been playing pro hoops in Australia for the past three years and was selected 33rd overall in the 2022 WNBA Draft. In her last season with the Canberra Capitals in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL), Melbourne held the starting point guard position and averaged 13.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 6.1 APG. Growing up playing Australian rules football made her tough, gutsy, and unafraid to take it strong into the paint and meet whatever imposing 6’8” defender awaits.
The Storm brass had front-row seats to watch Horston at Climate Pledge Arena for the Tennessee–Virginia Tech Sweet Sixteen matchup, and they obviously liked what they saw. Horston’s effort against Virginia Tech was solid, leading the Lady Vols with 17 points and giving her team a lift when they needed it. She can drive, pull-up, and shoot the three, so while she’s known for her defense, if she leans into her offensive capabilities, she’ll be an important scoring threat for Seattle.
Stats as of 5/12/23 and courtesy of WNBA.com, WNBL.com, and Auprosports.com.