For just the third time since the WNBA draft began in 2000, Seattle will not have a first-round pick.
The past two years the Storm held the No. 1 overall pick in WNBA draft and this year Seattle traded its sixth overall pick in January to acquire low-post veteran Carolyn Swords.
Barring an unlikely draft-day trade, the Storm will make its first selection Thursday with the third pick in the second round — No. 15 overall.
It’ll be just the third time since the WNBA draft began in 2000 that Seattle will not have a first-round pick.
WNBA draft, 4 p.m., ESPN2. The Storm’s first pick is No. 3 in the second round.
In addition to the No. 15 overall pick, the Storm has the sixth pick in the third round (30th overall).
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Whomever the Storm selects will pale in comparison with the team’s past two drafts, which netted first-round picks Breanna Stewart last year and Jewell Loyd in 2015 — both Rookie of the Year winners.
“We accessed the draft early on and we didn’t feel like we would be able to get at No. 6, the caliber of player to help us right now,” coach Jenny Boucek said. “We didn’t feel like the value of that pick compared to being able to get a player like Swords.
“Is she the flashiest player in the league? No. But that’s not what we’re looking for. We’re looking for superstar role players to go around the pieces that we have. And we believe she is that.”
In essence Swords, a 6-foot-6 center who started the past two seasons with the New York Liberty and averaged a career-high 5.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last year, is Seattle’s de facto first-round pick this year.
Florida State point guard Leticia Romero, Kentucky guard Makayla Epps and Florida forward Ronni Williams are draft prospects who have been linked to the Storm in various mock drafts.
“Last year … I kicked my feet up and I didn’t have to do any homework,” Boucek said. “I already knew who we were going to take as soon as we won the lottery.
“This year takes a lot more work because we’re still believing we can get a player at 15 that can stick. Now the numbers that if you look around the league … the probability of a second-round pick making your team are very low.”
Last year’s Storm roster included just one second-round pick (Alysha Clark) and one third-round pick (Krystal Thomas).
Seattle, which finished 16-18 and snapped a two-year playoff drought last year, returns its starting five and top eight scorers.
The Storm is in win-now mode and poised to build on last year’s seventh-place finish in the 12-team league.
With Stewart and Loyd leading the way, Seattle hopes to mature into a championship contender and thus isn’t particularly interested in adding younger players.
Still at some point, the Storm will need to find a replacement for Sue Bird, its 36-year-old point guard who enters her 15th season.
However Boucek, described this year’s draft as “not very strong in my opinion,” which adds perspective to the unlikelihood that Seattle will find an impact player Thursday.
“At 15 you got to take the best available player that has the best chance of sticking because the chances of a second-round pick sticking are low,” she said. “If we had our choice, we’d try to find a young perimeter player that we can develop at any spot.
“It’s no secret that we’re looking for a successor to Sue and we may or may not get that at 15. But we’re not going to go for a point guard if there’s a better player that has a better chance of sticking.”