It may be difficult for Storm fans to get excited about Thursday’s WNBA draft considering Seattle had the No. 1 overall pick and traded it to the Dallas Wings for backup forward Katie Lou Samuelson and a 2022 second-round pick.
Taking a pass on Texas Longhorns center Charli Collier and Arizona Wildcats point guard Aari McDonald, who are projected to be top-five picks, says as much about the Storm’s priorities as it does the general perception of this year’s draft.
And it should be noted, the New York Liberty originally had the No. 1 overall pick before dealing it to Seattle in a packaged swap that netted Natasha Howard.
“It’s not a deep or one of the best drafts that we’ve ever seen,” coach Dan Hughes said last month during a Zoom call. “But what’s there is a lot of equity.”
In fact there’s so much equity, the Storm, which has four picks in the draft including No. 11 overall, is more than content to pick at the bottom of the first round for the third consecutive year.
“There’s a couple of ways we can go,” Hughes said. “I think there’s enough flexibility that if one of the players we like is a guard or a post, we can take them. I do kind of believe that.
“When you pick 11, you just really hope there’s somebody that you feel strongly about that you’re able to select. Eleven, that’s down the road a bit. But coming off all the discussions we had, I think it’s possible that this player that we select could have a good opportunity to make your team. When you’re picking at that level, that’s what you want.”
The Storm has two picks in the second round (Nos. 6 and 11) and the 11th pick in the third round, but keep in mind non-first rounders are a rarity in the 12-team league comprised of 144 players.
Two years ago, Seattle used the No. 12 overall pick to select Ezi Magbegor and seemingly discovered a gem with the last pick in the first round.
The 21-year-old Australian center joined the Storm last season and garnered Rookie of the Year consideration while averaging 6.5 points and 2.5 rebounds as a reserve.
A year ago, the Storm picked 11th in the first round of the draft and nabbed Latvian shooting guard Kitija Laksa, who stayed overseas in 2020 and is expected to join the team this season.
If the past two drafts are any indication, the reigning WNBA champion Storm isn’t looking to resolve any immediate needs with whoever is selected Thursday.
Despite a transformative offseason that included the loss of starters Alysha Clark and Howard, Seattle is still one of the league’s top title contenders with a veteran nucleus that includes All-Stars Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd and Sue Bird.
Newcomer Candice Dupree, a seven-time All-Star, replaces Howard, and Mikiah ‘Kiki’ Herbert Hannigan and Samuelson will seemingly get the first opportunities to fill the void created by Clark’s departure.
Jordin Canada and Epiphanny Prince are the primary reserves in the backcourt, with Magbegor and Mercedes Russell providing support on the front line.
Seattle has 14 players on the roster, including three training-camp invites, and could add one more before the May 15 season opener against Las Vegas.
According to a variety of mock drafts, the Storm has been linked to UCLA forward Michaela Onyenwere, Stanford point guard Kiana Williams and Arkansas guard Chelsea Dungee.
Meanwhile, Australian guard Shyla Heal, who many tab as a second-round pick, could be an ideal fit for the Storm considering the team’s recent track record and long history with drafting international players, including Naismith Hall of Fame nominee Lauren Jackson.
“We could get a player at 11 that might be thought about at six,” Hughes said. “It’s going to interesting to watch it play out.”
Thursday: WNBA draft, 4 p.m. PT, ESPN
April 25: Training camp starts
May 13: League rosters finalized
May 14: WNBA season begins
May 15: Storm season opener vs. Las Vegas
July 15-Aug. 11: Summer Olympic break
Aug. 15: Second half schedule begins
Sept. 17: Storm regular-season finale vs. Phoenix
Sept. 23: WNBA playoffs begin
Guard: Sue Bird, Jordin Canada, Epiphanny Prince
Guard: Jewell Loyd, Kitija Laksa, Haley Gorecki*
Forward: Mikiah Herbert Hannigan, Katie Lou Samuelson
Forward: Breanna Stewart, Stephanie Talbot*, Tamera Young*
Forward: Candice Dupree, Ezi Magbegor, Mercedes Russell
Recent Storm drafts
First round (11th pick overall): Kitija Laksa
Second round (19th pick overall): Joyner Holmes
Third round (31st pick overall): Haley Gorecki
First round (12th pick overall): Ezi Magbegor
Second round (24th pick overall): Anriel Howard
Third round (36th pick overall): Macy Miller
First round (5th pick overall): Jordin Canada
Third round (29th pick overall): Teana Muldrow
Second round (15th pick overall): Alexis Peterson
Third round (30th pick overall): Lanay Montgomery
First round (1st pick overall): Breanna Stewart
Third round (26th pick overall): Lexi Eaton Rydalch
First round (1st pick overall): Jewell Loyd
First round (3rd pick overall): Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis
Second round (20th pick overall): Vicky McIntyre
Third round (26th pick overall): Nneka Enemkpali