At first glance, this trade doesn’t make a lot of sense for either side, considering both teams finished outside of the playoffs last season and the prospects don’t seem that great for this season. But when you take a look at the direction of both squads, it makes a lot more sense.
Most of the biggest questions around this Seattle franchise surrounded the post rotation. Last season, Agler trotted out two 6’2" power forwards in his starting frontcourt and while the mobility and skill of Camille Little and Crystal Langhorne can’t be questioned, that was bound to fail in a loaded Western Conference. Moving Little allows them to commit to moving Langhorne back to her natural four spot. The big concern surrounds Lauren Jackson and her return. If she was to come back, you had an all-star caliber trio where someone would end up as the odd woman out.
Now with Little out of the picture things can go one of two ways, LJ comes back and you have an all-star at the pivot spots and now with 2 of the top three picks, you’re likely to have a solid post (Williams or Harrison) coming off the bench and learning from two of the best to do it. If LJ decides to sit out this season, you can throw whichever post you have into the mix and let them learn on the fly, which isn’t exactly a bad thing.
And the fifteenth pick may seem like a throw-away but let’s look at this past year’s second round picks. Of the twelve picks, Jordan Hooper (Tulsa Shock), Tiffany Bias (Phoenix Mercury), Maggie Lucas (Indiana Fever, drafted by Phoenix) and Gennifer Brandon (Chicago Sky) were on their respective teams' roster all season. Inga Orekhova made the Dream’s initial roster but was a casualty when Celine DuMerc came over. Asya Bussie likely would’ve made the Lynx roster had she not gotten hurt. Michelle Plouffe had made Seattle’s roster before she was cut for a more veteran player in Nicole Powell, who was cut by Tulsa for Hooper. Astou Ndour finished the season in San Antonio. Cassie Harberts and Tyaunna Marshall are WNBA-caliber players and Jennifer Hamson will be on the Sparks roster this season if she decides on basketball. Then, the last pick of the second round, Christina Foggie made an impression that wasn’t expected in Minnesota and was praised by the coaching staff but ultimately, that team was just way too stacked.
Now, I saved the best for last. Renee Montgomery is a bit of an enigma. She clearly wasn’t happy coming off the bench and probably wanted out as soon as Charles skipped town. She’s a talented player who has been underwhelming based on the lofty standards she set for herself during her senior season at UConn but this is a perfect opportunity for her. Jenny Boucek is going to integrate an open offense for this team and will likely encourage her aggression on the offensive end and being able to pick the brain of Sue Bird on the daily will only help Da20One’s growth. At 28, she’s entering what should be the prime of her career and a change of scenery was much needed.
In the end, the draft picks are the big win for the Storm, I mentioned on Twitter that their best bet would be to take Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis to fill the hole they now have on the wing at one, allow Tulsa to take their pick between Izzy Harrison and Elizabeth Williams and grab whichever one is left. There’s a solid rotation of guards In Seattle (Bird, Montgomery, Johnson, O’Hea) so there won’t be a need to add any perimeter help in what is likely a weak draft.
DISCLAIMER: I DON’T THINK THIS TRADE MAKES CONNECTICUT LOADS BETTER OR PUTS THEM INTO PLAYOFF CONTENTION. But you can’t consider trading a player who didn’t want to be there or wasn’t happy with their role a loss in any fashion. The subtraction of Montgomery from an otherwise strong corps of guards (when healthy) will likely be the Sun’s greatest addition. Alex Bentley had a breakout season, Chelsea Gray is playing extremely well in Israel, and Allison Hightower and Danielle McCray are both former starters from this franchise that should return to a high level of play after getting healthy. With all that considered, Montgomery needed to walk. Connecticut will likely do everything they can early in the season to try and make the playoffs but the future is where their best days lie.
Camille Little has long been one of my favorite players and I think this could be the next step in her development. After finishing last season as Seattle’s leading scorer, she more than showed she’s capable of being a top level option. Katie Douglas will likely still be chucking that weird but accurate lefty jumper from the wings but with Ogwumike out for the season, Little should be option number two. She’ll also be able to be a fantastic mentor and bring championship experience to a young, inexperienced frontline. Kelsey Bone is a player that immediately comes to mind. Coming out of high school, Bone has struggled to really find a home but she seemed to really take steps forward in Connecticut, simply because she got the consistent minutes.
Shekinna Stricklen is the wild card of this trade. Three years down the line, we could be asking ourselves what was Seattle thinking? Or, we could be talking about how crazy Connecticut was to give up two picks and a proven scorer at the point guard spot for someone who just can’t figure it out. I’m on the side of the former, and I think that this could be a good move for Stricklen. Things are a little bit slower on the East Coast and the makeup of this team is much more similar to what she was used to at Tennessee. Hopefully, Anne Donovan won’t try to parade her around as a power forward and really allows Stricklen to be aggressive.
Overall, Connecticut "wins" this trade for me solely based on the fact that they got two players in return that they wouldn’t have been able to get with the 3rd and 15th picks in this year’s draft. They hold on to the fourth pick, which should be a BPA pick and automatically improve the locker room. Nothing against Montgomery at all as a leader or a teammate, but her happy times in Connecticut ended long before she lost her starting job last season.