Swords, who is 6 feet 6, should alleviate pressure from forwards Breanna Stewart (6-4 and 175 pounds) and Crystal Langhorne (6-2 and 185 pounds), who were paired against bigger post players last season.
Alysha Clark stopped short of saying Carolyn Swords, who is literally the Storm’s biggest offseason acquisition, will be the missing piece to a WNBA championship-contending puzzle.
“Whoa, that’s a little too much to put on one person,” Clark said. “We’re not going to put pressure on her like that. But it’s no secret that we obviously needed many of the things that she does, and it’s great that we have her.”
The 6-foot-6, 209-pound center, who arrived in Seattle via a trade with New York in January, gives the Storm the big-bodied post player it has coveted since legendary Lauren Jackson last played for the team in 2012.
Storm @ Los Angeles, 2 p.m., ESPN
Swords, who averages 4.2 points and 3.4 rebounds during her seven-year career, isn’t going to make anyone forget about Jackson, a seven-time All-Star.
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But Swords, a 27-year-old six-year veteran, should alleviate pressure from forwards Breanna Stewart (6-4 and 175 pounds) and Crystal Langhorne (6-2 and 185), who were paired against bigger post players last season.
“She’s a force in the paint,” Clark said while describing Swords. “Just that low-block player that we haven’t seen with our team recently. It’s nice. She brings a different look to us. She has great hands around the rim. Great touch. She’s just a great player. She’s going to do the little things. She’s going to screen.
“She’s going to rebound. She’s going to get her teammates open and take the right shots when it’s there. She’s very intelligent. It’s going to be fun.”
Swords makes her regular-season debut with the Storm at 2 p.m. Saturday in a nationally televised ESPN game against defending WNBA champion Los Angeles at Staples Center.
For Swords, it’s an early test against one of the league’s top centers, Finals MVP Candace Parker.
“I’m excited to just bring my skills to this team,” said Swords, who averaged 10 points, five rebounds and 17 minutes in two exhibitions with the Storm. “I know that my length is one of my advantages.”
Swords spent her first three seasons in Chicago, which drafted her No. 15 overall in 2011. She missed half of the 2013 season because of an MCL injury and sat out in 2014.
After a stint with Acqua & Sapone Umbertide in Italy, where she averaged 14 points and 7.6 rebounds, Swords returned to the WNBA in 2015 and spent the past two seasons in New York.
Playing alongside All-Star forward Tina Charles, Swords was a stalwart defender for New York.
“She’s not anything spectacular, but she’ll swat her fair share of shots,” New York coach Bill Laimbeer told SB Nation in 2015. “She plays solid, plugging team defense and keeps people out of the paint. She’s arguably our best post defender when it comes to denying the basketball into the post.”
Swords credits Laimbeer, the all-time leading rebounder for the Detroit Pistons, for helping to improve her defense.
“Obviously, he made a name for himself on the defensive end when he played, and defense is a trademark of his teams,” said Swords, who posted career highs in scoring (5.2 points), rebounds (4.6) and minutes (17.5) while making 34 starts last year.
Saturday’s game marks a return to Los Angeles for the Storm, which lost 96-66 in the 2016 opener. Seattle won the past two games against the Sparks at KeyArena.
“We don’t get to ease into this season,” Storm coach Jenny Boucek said. “That’s not what this league is about. There aren’t any freebies in what I feel is the most competitive league in the world.
“Out of the gate, we have two games to start and it’s off and running.”
On Sunday, the Storm faces Indiana in its 4 p.m. home opener at KeyArena.