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May 13, 2024 10:28 pm

New-look Storm open season vs. Lynx

seattle storm

A pair of teams intent on returning to their recent glory days will meet in a WNBA season opener on Tuesday when the Seattle Storm play host to the Minnesota Lynx.

The Lynx returned to the playoffs last season after their 11-year postseason run ended in 2022. Included in that 11-season stretch was four WNBA titles, with Minnesota last winning a championship in 2017.

Napheesa Collier led the way for the Lynx in 2023, averaging 21.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Collier ranked fourth in the WNBA in scoring last year and will be getting plenty of help this season.

Minnesota not only added forward Alanna Smith and guard Courtney Williams as free agents, but it also drafted former Utah forward Alissa Pili with the No. 8 overall selection. Smith came in third in voting for Most Improved Player in 2023, while Williams averaged 10.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists. The two were teammates with the Chicago Sky last season.

“You should expect us to be better defensively, you should expect us to be better at 3-point shooting, you should expect us to be able to play with better pace,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “That’s the feel that we have. … We are going to continue to surprise people.”

The Storm will also have a new look after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2015. Seattle won two of its four overall WNBA championships in its most recent playoff run but is still transitioning out of the Sue Bird/Breanna Stewart era.

Jewell Loyd led the WNBA in scoring last season at 24.7 points per game for the Storm and was third in 3-pointers made with 115. She now will receive help from two major free agent additions: forward Nneka Ogwumike, an eight-time All-Star, and guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, a six-time All-Star.

Loyd and Diggins-Smith helped Notre Dame to the Final Four in 2013.

Another addition is guard Nika Muhl, a rookie second-round draft pick out of UConn.

“So far, they’re doing great,” Loyd said of the new players being integrated into the team. “So far it’s been seamless. A lot of it is understanding spacing. The way we play here is different. There are concepts more than just absolute plays. It’s knowing personnel. … It’s just learning what you can do and play to your strengths.”

Seattle was 11-29 last season, the franchise’s lowest number of victories in a season since a 10-win campaign in 2015. The Storm were next to last in the WNBA with an average of 78.8 points per game, and they were ranked in the bottom half of the league in points allowed per contest (84.5).

The Lynx were next to last in average points allowed at 85.0, and they were ninth out of 12 teams on offense at 80.2.

–Field Level Media

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