The Storm’s season ended earlier than anticipated, but a new WNBA format will help Seattle transition into 2015 quicker.
The league’s draft lottery will be held Thursday during halftime of the Game 1 playoff matchup between Indiana and Washington at 4 p.m. on ESPN2. In the past, the league held the lottery in the winter to decide the top four picks in the April draft.
Seattle (12-22) has to wait only four days instead of four months to move forward.
“There’s some excitement about being in the lottery, it’s like optimism going into next season,” said Storm coach Brian Agler. “And I like it right now because it’s coming off a time where our players were disappointed (about not advancing to the postseason). On Thursday, we’ll be able to turn the page.”
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As one of the four teams that didn’t advance to the postseason, Seattle is tied with Tulsa with the greatest chance to nab the No. 1 overall pick. Connecticut owns the remaining probabilities, already owning New York’s first-round pick due to a trade last season.
In a discussion Tuesday, Agler mentioned getting younger in the backcourt as a priority. But he traded the seventh overall pick last season, which Washington used to select point guard Bria Hartley, who helped lead the franchise to the postseason. With the eighth pick, Atlanta drafted point guard Shoni Schimmel, a native Oregonian who became the first rookie to be named MVP of the All-Star Game.
At the time, Agler felt finding a replacement for Lauren Jackson, a three-time league MVP, was imperative. Jackson, 33, missed her second consecutive season due to injury, undergoing three knee surgeries since February.
Jackson and Agler spoke Monday, and the 6-foot-6 center still hasn’t been medically cleared to return to the court. The Australian Olympian hasn’t played a full season in Seattle since leading the Storm to a championship in 2010.
The last remaining year on Jackson’s contract was suspended in 2013 when she underwent hamstring surgery. It dissolved under the new collective-bargaining agreement signed in 2014, but Seattle does retain Jackson’s rights.
Agler gained Crystal Langhorne, a two-time all-star forward, in the trade with Washington. Langhorne and post player Camille Little developed an on-court chemistry by the end of the season, leading Seattle to a 3-2 finish.
Sue Bird and Tanisha Wright struggled offensively in the backcourt, however, Agler using the wing position to substitute players all season in search of an offensive spark. Seattle averaged a league-low 70.8 points.
Seattle won’t know until winter if Wright, a 10-year veteran, will re-sign with Seattle. Bird, a 13-year veteran, has one season remaining on her contract.
“I’m not happy we’re not in the playoffs,” Bird said. “But I’m trying to look at the positives, and maybe now we get a good draft pick.”