On what will almost certainly go down as the most important single day in the history of the Seattle Storm (excluding the day the city was awarded the franchise) there are several clues as to what could happen and what might have happened had the draft not been so inherently changed with the additions of Amanda Zahui B. and Jewell Loyd.
1: The Storm were originally considering Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Elizabeth Williams and Samantha Logic as lead possibilities with the #1 and #3 picks. The front office had targeted Jewell Loyd for their pick in 2016 and Amanda Zahui B for 2017 respectively.
2: Every mock draft will be invalid beyond the top 2 picks. Multiple teams are in talks to make trades both with the Storm and with other franchises and there is a more than 50% chance the #3 pick is traded elsewhere.
3: No trades involving the Storm will be announced until AFTER the first pick. According to Jayda Evans of the Seattle Times, Alisha Valvanis wants to evaluate all offers once the draft has started. The only way this changes is if an offer too good to refuse is made before the draft. Even then it remains unlikely that an announcement will be made in advance.
4: The #1 pick is essentially off limits in terms of trades. The Storm have already made a social media push to hype whomever they pick at #1 and have scheduled the as yet to be selected player to throwout the first pitch at the Seattle Mariners game on Friday, a mere 27 hours after being added to the franchise. It is clear that the entire organization wants to create as much hype and public awareness about the new face of Storm basketball as possible before the season tips off.
5: The most likely trade partners are Tulsa, Atlanta and San Antonio in no particular order. There is also an outside chance that New York or Indiana could come into play as well. Atlanta head coach Michael Cooper stated at the start of the off-season that he would love to add another power forward who could help Erika De Souza, while Dream GM Angela Taylor is quoted as saying the Dream need to add a three point shooter to the roster. With the Storm having Crystal Langhorne and Jenna O’Hea, either or both could be targeted by Atlanta. So could the #3 pick, which would net them Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. What the Dream could offer in return is unknown, but look for Seattle to demand Shoni Schimmel in any major trade involving Atlanta. Her playing style matches Boucek’s system and her fan base in Seattle is so large that the Storm were nearly booed off their home floor when they beat Atlanta last season. San Antonio is attempting to add a post player and point guard with their draft picks and Langhorne is likely to prove more intriguing than any player available. Tulsa possesses the #2 pick. If Valvanis manages to acquire it then the Storm will be able to add BOTH Zahui B and Loyd in the same draft and be significantly closer than anticipated to returning to the WNBA finals.
6: The #3 pick and Crystal Langhorne are the most likely assets that could be traded before the draft is finished. Seemingly every team in the WNBA is calling and making offers for the #3 pick and if Seattle goes with Zahui B over Loyd it gives them four players over 6’ 5" on the roster. This in addition to having Langhorne, Bishop and Ramu Tokashiki at power forward with a clear focus on developing for the future. Keeping Langhorne could hinder the rate of development for the new young front court players the Storm have already added. Plus her trade value is incredibly high given she is an all-star power forward in her prime.
7: Sue Bird is very intrigued by both Loyd and KML. Bird has tweeted about the former and her excitement of her declaring early, and she has spoken repeatedly in interviews that KML is the best shooter she has ever seen and that she has been unfairly critiqued about the current weaknesses in her game. The one player Bird has not mentioned is Zahui B., but Alisha Valvanis has been focused on bringing in young players with height all off-season and scouted Elizabeth Williams extensively into the NCAA tournament when it was assumed she would be a top 2 pick. The question becomes who has final say in the draft decisions? Also, is it worth letting Tulsa, a conference rival who is MUCH further along in their rebuilding get their hands on the best center in the country in order for Seattle to add a franchise all-star guard in Loyd?
8: Seattle has had serious interest in Iowa center Bethany Doolittle as a potential second or third round pick. This might have changed with the additions of Loyd and Zahui B, but don’t be surprised if she is drafted by Seattle. The Storm scouted her and Samantha Logic extensively in the regular season and in the tournament and also attended Iowa practices to scout both players.
9:Jazmine Davis or another regional player could wind up on the roster. Valvanis and Bird both scouted Davis in person and the Force 10 ownership group are looking for ways to create sustained excitement around the franchise while it rebuilds. Adding a local product, especially one like Davis, gives another storyline for the franchise to market and can potentially bring in UW students and fans to Storm games who would otherwise spend their entertainment dollars elsewhere.
10: Don’t be surprised if the Storm add additional draft picks for this year or 2016, 2017 or 2018 in any trade they make. Even with Loyd and Zahui B declaring early, there are still MULTIPLE players the Storm would love to add in this and future drafts. Future players include ,but are not limited to, Breanna Stewart, Jillian Alleyne, Moriah Jefferson, Kelsey Plum, Kelsey Mitchell and Diamond DeShields.
Will the Storm make a major trade? Will they keep what they have? Which early entry prospect who wears #32 will they select at #1? Will they take KML at #3? All will be answered before the end of the night Thursday.