Where they finished last season: 26-8 (WNBA Champions)
Roster additions: Shavonte Zellous; Ezi Magbegor
Roster losses: None of note
Where to go from the top? Sustaining excellence is often said to be more of a challenge than achieving it in the first place. Dominant teams like the Golden State Warriors often talk about the challenge of finding motives and targets, in order to keep the previous feeling of determination alive. The Storm may not need to worry about that, as they’ve been struck by an incomprehensible amount of adversity during the offseason that has caused shockwaves in Seattle.
In April, the reigning MVP Breanna Stewart suffered an Achilles injury while playing in Russia. Stewart was clearly the best player in the entire league in 2018, so naturally that was enough of a setback to change the outlook for the Storms upcoming season and then it got so much worse.
In the same week as Stewart’s injury, head coach Dan Hughes was diagnosed with cancer and will undergo surgery, with no concrete timetable on his return. Gary Kloppenburg will step in as the interim coach. After losing your best player and your off-court leader, the hope would be that you can lean on your top-level veterans. Alas, that was not to be.
A month after the Stewart news, it was revealed that NBA legend and all-around superwoman Sue Bird revealed that she was out indefinitely, likely putting an end to the Storm’s hopes of contention. The 3-time WNBA champion and longest-serving active player will undergo arthroscopic surgery on her knee – an area that has hampered her during important periods of her lengthy and illustrious career.
Believe it or not, the Storm do still have some players on the roster. The turmoil will obviously cause some team selection headaches for the coaching staff but through unfortunate circumstances, comes opportunity for others to prove themselves. 27-year-old forward Natasha Howard and long-time Seattle contributor Alysha Clark will have added responsibility as they attempt to maintain stability for the defending champs.
In free agency, the front office made moves for 32-year-old guard Shavonte Zellous. Through the draft, they acquired Australian standout Ezi Magbegor with the 12th overall selection, as well as the later-cut Macy Miller and forward Anriel Miller with later picks.
Most recently, changes were made during a brutal training camp. Recee Caldwell, Zykera Rice, Presley Hudson and Teana Muldrow were cut, clearing space in the roster.
Repeating seems like an unrealistic goal at this point due to the team’s rotten luck but the most important thing for the organisation at this point is to hope. They will hope that they can make the playoffs, hope that Bird’s surgery goes well, hope that Stewart’s recovery is speedy and most importantly, hope like hell that Hughes fights that thing.