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WNBA Offseason: Breanna Stewart has reasons to stay with the Seattle Storm

Breanna Stewart is a free agent who met with the New York Liberty last offseason. Sue Bird and Briann January have retired. The only players the Storm have under contract for 2023 are Jewell Loyd and Mercedes Russell. A lot remains uncertain in Seattle.

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Las Vegas Aces v Seattle Storm - Game Three
The last time we saw Breanna Stewart in a WNBA game she scored a career-high 42 points.
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

With the WNBA Finals and World Cup over, it’s time to take a look back at what each WNBA team did this season and forward at what their offseason goals should be. Next up is the ninth installment in our series: the No. 4 seed Seattle Storm, who lost in the semifinals.

Storm statistical rankings (per game)

  • 5th net rating (5.2)
  • 5th scoring (82.5)
  • 5th offensive rating (104.9)
  • 3rd scoring defense (78.4)
  • 3rd defensive rating (99.7)
  • 6th field goal percentage (44.2)
  • 4th field goal percentage defense (43.4)
  • 3rd 3-pointers made (9.3)
  • 1st 3-point percentage (36.1)
  • 2nd 3-pointers allowed (7)
  • 1st 3-point percentage defense (32)
  • 11th free throw attempts (15.1)
  • 12th personal fouls drawn (16.1)
  • 1st free throw percentage (82.5)
  • 1st opponents free throw attempts (15)
  • 1st personal fouls (15.6)
  • 7th offensive rebounds (7.8)
  • T8th offensive rebounds allowed (8.6)
  • 8th defensive rebounds (25.8)
  • 11th defensive rebounds allowed (27.9)
  • 9th total rebounds (33.6)
  • 11th total rebounds allowed (36.5)
  • 3rd turnovers (12.8)
  • 4th opponents steals (7.2)
  • 3rd turnovers forced (14.4)
  • 3rd steals (8.3)
  • 3rd blocks (4.2)
  • 1st opponents blocks (2.9)
  • 2nd assists (22.6)
  • 7th assists allowed (20.8)

Analysis of statistical rankings/offseason goals

The Storm need to work on getting to the free throw line and rebounding. They were also a pretty cold shooting team for how high they finished in the standings. The ended up fifth in scoring offense, which isn’t bad, but their defense really carried them all season long.

Seattle was pretty strong across the board other than those things. Its defense, led by three All-Defensive Team honorees in Breanna Stewart, Ezi Magbegor and Gabby Williams, was phenomenal.

The Storm finished first in 3-point percentage and second in assists, both things that they could get worse at without Sue Bird. Of course, everything could get worse without Stewart, so let’s get into the personnel.

WNBA Playoffs R2G4- Las Vegas Aces v Seattle Storm
What areas will the Storm take a step back in without Sue Bird?
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Under contract for 2023*

  • Jewell Loyd (protected) (SG)
  • Mercedes Russell (protected) (C)

Unrestricted free agents*

  • Breanna Stewart (PF/SF)
  • Epiphanny Prince (SG)
  • Jantel Lavender (PF)
  • Stephanie Talbot (SF)
  • Tina Charles (C/PF)

Restricted free agents*

  • Gabby Williams (SF)


  • Ezi Magbegor (C)

Draft picks

9; 18; 21; 33

Analysis of players/offseason goals

Before I can get into how the Storm will replace Bird, I have to discuss an even bigger topic, which is of course how do they hold on to Stewart?

We all know about the jersey burnings that took place when LeBron James took his talents to South Beach. That was of course leaving a hometown though and if Stewart joins the New York Liberty it would be a homecoming. Still, some may count it against LeBron’s legacy that he didn’t play for just one team.

ESPN’s Top 5 WNBA players of all time (Diana Taurasi, Tamika Catchings, Cynthia Cooper, Maya Moore and Lisa Leslie) all played or have played for just one team. No. 6 Sheryl Swoopes played 10 of 12 seasons with one team and Nos. 7 and 8, Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird, of course spent their entire careers with the Storm. With that being said, the next three (Nos. 9, 10 and 11) have all been celebrated for the moves they made to new teams. Two, Candace Parker (No. 9) and Elena Delle Donne (No. 11), were homecomings, so it’s easy to celebrate those, and both won a championship back in their home location. Sylvia Fowles (No. 10) created a phenomenal legacy in her second home (Minnesota) even though it wasn’t a homecoming, and her first team, the Chicago Sky, gave her a chair during her farewell tour.

Stewart is No. 12 on the list; the ball’s in her court.

Of the Top 10 NBA players of all time according to The Athletic, five (Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant) played for just one team and No. 1 Michael Jordan essentially played for one team. After 13 seasons with the Chicago Bulls, he spent just two seasons spent with the Washington Wizards after coming out of his second retirement.

Parker signed with her hometown Sky as a free agent, while Fowles and Delle Donne both wanted out, though ultimately the left via trade. Fowles and Delle Donne were both championship-less when they left Chicago so they didn’t have the attachment to the Sky that Stewart has to Seattle, having won two championships with the Storm. Stewart may be inspired to remain loyal to Bird even in Bird’s retirement and honor her by continuing to play for the team on which they created so many memories.

It’s also going to be hard to find a better Robin than Jewell Loyd. New York has a talented big three in Sabrina Ionescu, Natasha Howard and Betnijah Laney, but Stewart knows she has chemistry, and championship chemistry at that, with Loyd.

With all that being said, homecomings are tempting and it’s hard to predict whether Stewart will prefer to stay loyal to the city where she has spent her entire professional career thus far or the state she called home in childhood. Perhaps Syracuse and New York City being very different places will make it seem like less of a homecoming, but we don’t know that for sure. Of course, Stewart also has a decision to make about whether to play in the WNBA at all next season when she could make more money by committing to overseas play.

With all possible choices being tempting, the Storm need to make Stewart believe they have a good shot at winning the championship. They need to find a really good point guard and a back-up point guard seeing as both Bird and Briann January have retired. The Tina Charles experiment ended in disaster, but had its good moments. I think they should keep Charles unless they can find someone better in free agency. With or without Charles, they need more stars to go along with Stewart and Loyd and some good depth as well.

Only Loyd and Mercedes Russell are currently under contract for 2023. You’ve got to hold on to Ezi Magbegor, but you may consider letting some of your other free agents go and pursue free agents on other teams if you’re the Storm. I wasn’t a big fan of the Storm’s roster outside of Stewart and Loyd last year, though they did prove me wrong in a lot of ways.

Las Vegas Aces v Seattle Storm - Game Three
Ezi Magbegor
Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

* Per Her Hoop Stats