The Seattle Storm has to find a way to add younger pieces to their team, even though they don't all have to be rookies. They have a log jam at the guard position and a lot of bigs who also play the same position. Fortunately, Seattle's first overall pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft gives them a lot of flexibility.
If I am Storm Head Coach and General Manager Brian Agler, here are some things that I would try to do:
Swap 2015 Draft Picks with the Tulsa Shock in a multi-player deal
Tulsa really wants Mosequeda-Lewis to round out their Top-5 and may be willing to give up Cambage's rights. Pairing Cambage with her Aussie teammate and Idol Lauren Jackson, having the second pick of the 2015 Draft to select another top talent or trading that pick for another young piece could help set them atop the West.
So here's a framework for a Seattle-Tulsa deal involving the top picks in the 2015 Draft:
- 2nd pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft
- The rights to Liz Cambage
- Roneeka Hodges
- 1st pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft
- Shekinna Stricklen
- Noelle Quinn
Tulsa would be able to draft Lewis and have Stricklen and Quinn to help their young nucleus. Stricklen, Glory Johnson and Vicky Baugh played together at Tennessee and have familiarity with one another. This trade would really help both teams. Although Cambage doesn’t get her true big market wish, she gets to play with two players she admires (Jackson and Bird). Hodges will also be a nice scorer for the team.
Acquire Layshia Clarendon and a second round pick from the Indiana Fever in exchange for Crystal Langhorne
Clarendon will only be entering her third season in the league. Given that Tanisha Wright and Temeka Johnson would be dealt (that's my next move on this list), she will have a chance to be Bird's backup, though I don't have her making my final roster.
But if she does, Clarendon is improved her three point accuracy this past season with shots near the line (6-15 for shots 22-25 feet). Clarendon also is not afraid to take shots at the rim, where she averages nearly 59% of her shots 1-5 feet. These are all significant improvements from her 2013 numbers. If she makes the team, Clarendon could learn and improve her shooting while working along side Bird, one of the best shooters in the league. The second round pick from Indiana will help give Seattle additional depth which I will get into later.
As for Langhorne, she will not be a starter if Jackson returns, let alone if Cambage is also there. Lang would likely want to go somewhere where she can start. She also is playing out of position as a center in Seattle and would allow Indy to move Tamika Catchings to her natural position at the small forward spot. Erlana Larkins can remain the starter at the 5 or she and Lang can switch off at the 5. This also allows Indy to not have to draft a post with Natalie Achonwa returning from her ACL injury. It also doesn’t force Natasha Howard into the starting lineup, because. Marissa Coleman and Lang also would reunite as well from their days in college at Maryland, and the pros with the Mystics.
Acquire Renee Montgomery, Kelly Faris, Ebony Hoffman from the Connecticut Sun in exchange for Temeka Johnson and Tanisha Wright
Connecticut gets a couple of veterans to complement the bumper crop of youth, especially at the point guard position. This also allows Anne Donovan the opportunity to not rush Chelsea Gray back and gives her a player who knows her well (Tanisha Wright). Montgomery will have a chance to potentially start alongside Bird.
Acquire Essence Carson, Swin Cash, and a Conditional Second round pick from the New York Liberty in exchange for Camille Little and Angel Robinson
With the return of Jackson and the addition of Cambage, Little would be delegated to the bench unless Agler tries Jackson at the 4 for which I don’t see happening. Bill Lambeer experimented with playing Tina Charles at the power forward position and it was okay. But he will soon see she would better suit his team playing at the 5 and adding a quality 4 of Little's stature alongside a lineup of Cappie Pondexter. This could propel New York to a playoff spot and be a potential contender in the East (if they can find a point guard because Cappie is better off the ball).
Draft Izzy Harrison with the second overall pick from the Tulsa deal, Draft Cierra Burdick with the top pick in the second round (if available), and Ariel Massengale with the 2nd round pick from the Indy deal
Izzy is a beast and will be great insurance at 6’4 should Cambage choose not to return after LJ retires. Selecting her Tennessee Teammates (Burdick and Massengale) gives Seattle a very young nucleus along with Clarendon and Kelly Faris that could really help the future of Seattle when Bird and Jackson both retire.
Burdick is a 6’2 Wing who can also play PF. She was the #3 overall player coming out of High School behind Mosqueda-Lewis and Elizabeth Williams and Ariel Massengale was the 4th overall player of that same recruiting class. That young talent would help the veterans tremendously (Although Agler is not very found of rookies) but these rookies wouldn’t have to play significant minutes.
With these moves and after cuts, I can see Seattle’s Final Roster looking like this:
Sue Bird G 5’9
Lauren Jackson F 6’5
Elizabeth Cambage C 6’8
Izzy Harrison C 6’4
Cierra Burdick F 6’2
Ariel Massengale PG 5’7
Swin Cash F 6’1
Ebony Hoffman PF 6’2
Renee Montgomery G 5’7
Essence Carson G/F 6’0
Roneeka Hodges G 5’11
Kelly Farris G/F 5’11
These upgrades totally revamp Seattle's roster with the holdovers being only Bird and Jackson. And on this team, there are players who know and/or have played with each other.
You have the Tennessee connection (Burdick, Harrison, Massengale) and the UCONN connection (Bird, Cash, Montgomery, Faris). You even have the Australian national team connection (Cambage and Jackson). So the only players who may not be familiar with each other are Hoffman and Hodges.
Given Agler’s desire for veterans this team is full with them and also gives it a solid nucleus should key players retire. I also like their chances of being able to compete and possibly contend with the West. At the same time, there is also more youth on the Storm roster. This will immediately raise the ceiling of this team long term, while also giving the Storm a chance to compete against the likes of the Phoenix Mercury and the Minnesota Lynx.
In my opinion, Cambage is just as dominant as Griner and a lot stronger. A healthy Jackson at 6’5 and her ability to shoot the 3 is a matchup problem for Candice Dupree in Phoenix and Rebekkah Brunson in Minnesota. Bird and Taurasi will cancel each other out (as well as Whalen), Bonner is the key at 6’4, but Maya Moore is better overall. Finally, Cash isn’t asked to do much. I also like Seattle’s bench a lot better than the other two teams.