clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2024 WNBA Free Agency: How high can the Seattle Storm surge with Skylar Diggins-Smith and Nneka Ogwumike?

It appears a storm is coming for the rest of the WNBA. With Skylar Diggins-Smith and Nneka Ogwumike joining Jewell Loyd and Ezi Magbegor in Seattle, the Storm are a certified championship contender.

2014 WNBA All-Star Practice and Media Availability
Nneka Ogwumike and Skylar Diggins-Smith, pictured at the 2014 WNBA All-Star Game practice, are uniting for the Seattle Storm in 2024.
Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

A year ago, the future of the Seattle Storm looked..stormy.

After Sue Bird retired at the end of the 2022 season, Breanna Stewart exercised her unrestricted free agency, taking her talents to the New York Liberty. Jewell Loyd, the third member of the core that had led the Storm to WNBA titles in 2018 and 2020, remained in Seattle, albeit in the final year of her contract.

Yet, glimmers of light broke through expectedly gray skies during Seattle’s 2023 season. Ezi Magbegor emerged as an All-Star, while Loyd turned in the best season of her nine-year career, scoring the most points in a single season in WNBA history as she earned All-Star and All-WNBA honors. Loyd also signed a two-year max extension with the Storm in September. Even as Seattle missed the playoffs for the first time since 2015, it now seemed like the coming storm—a years-long rebuild without playoff appearances—would not come for the Storm.

Now, the sky is clear in Seattle. Six-time All-WNBA guard Skylar Diggins-Smith and 2016 MVP and eight-time All-WNBA forward Nneka Ogwumike, two of 2024’s most highly-coveted unrestricted free agents, have joined the Storm. Diggins-Smith signed a two-year deal worth $208,219 in 2024 and $214,466 in 2025; Ogwumike inked a one-year deal for $204,500.

Although Seattle entered free agency with $423,000 in cap space, the organization created more financial flexibility for the pair of superstar signings by sending Kia Nurse, who is on a protected veteran contract due to pay her $142,000 in 2024, and the No. 4 pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for LA’s 2026 first-round pick.

Here’s how Diggins-Smith and Ogwumike will enhance the Storm on both sides of the ball:


What Diggins-Smith and Ogwumike bring to the Storm offense

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Kansas vs Notre Dame
Senior Skylar Diggins and freshman Jewell Loyd were backcourt mates at Notre Dame during the 2012-13 season. More than 10 years later, the pair will form a dynamic guard tandem for the Seattle Storm.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Even though Loyd cooked last season, the Seattle offense often was half-baked. The Storm finished with the league’s worst offense, with an offensive rating of 96.9. Outside of Magbegor and her career-high 13.8 points per game, Seattle got little, consistent supplementary scoring. Diggins-Smith and Ogwumike will solve the Storm’s offensive woes, transforming Seattle into a modern, complementary attack.

When she was last on the court in 2022, Diggins-Smith was playing like the best point guard in the W. She averaged a career-high 19.7 points per game, along with 5.5 assists. While Diggins-Smith’s ability to score at all three levels will unburden Loyd, the strengths of the two—driving for Diggins-Smith and shooting for Loyd—also will make things easier for the other. With defenders afraid to leave Loyd because of her 3-point shooting prowess, Diggins-Smith should enjoy freer forays to the basket. And if opponents dig in on her drives, she can fire a pass out to the perimeter, where an awaiting Loyd likely will drain the spot-up triple.

Now, add in Ogwumike, who, throughout her 12-year career, has been one of the most efficient players in the WNBA. Last season, her 19.1 points per game was the second-highest mark of her career, while she posted a career-high 14.3 field goal attempts per game. Expect her to scale back her scoring in a Seattle offense that should be less dependent on her points production. Instead, her smart, connective play will help optimize the Storm offense, whether through working with Diggins-Smith and Loyd in various two-woman actions or partnering with Magbegor for some high-low post-to-post combinations. That said, dumping the ball to Ogwumike and letting her go to work will remain an excellent offensive option.

What Diggins-Smith and Ogwumike bring to the Storm defense

Los Angeles Sparks v Seattle Storm
Nneka Ogwumike and Ezi Magbegor will be a forceful frontcourt tandem for the Seattle Storm.
Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

While defense was Seattle’s better side of the ball last season, it will be even better in 2024. And it will all start with Ogwumike and Magbegor forming a killer frontcourt.

Dripping with defensive talent since she debuted in the W in 2020, Magbegor has made back-to-back All-Defensive Teams. Last season, her 1.9 blocks per game was second only to Defensive Player of the Year A’ja Wilson’s league-leading mark; she also added more than a steal per game. And now, she’ll learn tricks of the trade from Ogwumike. It’s shocking that Ogwumike has earned only six All-Defensive Team nods in her career, as she has consistently been one of the league’s smartest, savviest defenders. Last season, her 2.4 “stocks” (steals+blocks) per game matched her career-best mark. She and Magbegor will anchor Seattle’s defensive unit with enviable interchangability, as both can switch onto and stick with perimeter players while also providing primary or secondary rim protection.

Diggins-Smith and Loyd both have vastly improved as defenders since their Notre Dame days. And with Magbegor and Ogwumike behind them to clean things up, they should be able to increase their aggression. With her offensive load lessened, Loyd should have the energy necessary to chase and challenge opponents, while Diggins-Smith can pester opposing ball handlers at the point of attack.

What’s next for Seattle?

In other free agency moves, the Storm signed Joyner Holmes to a training camp contract. If Holmes makes the final roster, that gives Seattle 10 players, meaning they still need to make at least one more addition. They have $153,083 in remaining salary cap space.

The unexpected return of Gabby Williams, who is unlikely to play in the WNBA in 2024 due to obligations with the French national team, would be a boon for Seattle, as she’d be a perfect fifth starter. Right now, Seattle could start a three-guard lineup with veteran sharpshooter Sami Whitcomb or opt to elevate promising second-year wing Jordan Horston into the opening five.

Most likely, Seattle will issue several more training camp contracts, creating a competition the final roster spot(s). An interesting name to consider is Arella Guirantes; she played nine games for the Storm last season and has been balling out for Beretta Famila Schio in EuroLeague Women.