Storm Update: The backcourt is heating up

Indiana Fever v Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd has been heating up after a slow start to the 2024 season. | Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Seattle Storm’s starting backcourt of Skylar Diggins-Smith and Jewell Loyd got off to a rough start this season, but the two stars have played much better recently, and it’s elevated the Storm back to a .500 record.

Things seem to be coming together for the Seattle Storm—perhaps more slowly than fans would like, but surely nonetheless.

Seattle exits the Memorial Day weekend with a 3-3 record, which may seem lukewarm for a team that had arguably the strongest free agency period of any team in the WNBA last winter. But after a 1-3 start to the 2024 WNBA season that included two underwhelming losses to the Minnesota Lynx, the Storm have righted the ship, winning their last two games against the Indiana Fever and Washington Mystics, and looking like a much more cohesive unit than they did weeks ago.

The Storm’s performance against Washington was particularly impressive, with Seattle winning 101-69 and shooting 61.7 percent from the field as a team. That’s the second-highest such figure in the Storm’s 25-year history, and it’s indicative of a group of players that’s considerably more comfortable playing together than it was when the season began.

Indiana Fever v Seattle Storm
Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images
It’s been a while since Skylar Diggins-Smith last played in the WNBA, but the Storm believe she’s turning a corner.

Most encouraging of all was the play of guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, who recorded 16 points and nine assists. Diggins-Smith had struggled with her shot in her first five games, connecting on just 30.3 percent of her field goal attempts and 6.7 percent of her 3-pointers, but she shot 6-for-9 against Washington and turned the ball over just once in 26 efficient minutes. It’s the kind of All-Star-caliber production the Storm expected when they signed Diggins-Smith in the offseason, and Seattle head coach Noelle Quinn thinks it’s just the beginning.

“She had two children and hasn’t played in 20 months. She’s not where she will be in Game 4 of the season,” Quinn said of Diggins-Smith, asking for respect and patience for her point guard. “She’s not going to come overnight and be who she was 20 months ago and we have to respect that and honor that.”

Diggins-Smith isn’t the only player who the Storm need to get rolling. Jewell Loyd, who led the WNBA in scoring last season at 24.7 points per game, has had similar struggles; during Seattle’s 1-3 start, Loyd shot 23.7 percent from the field, and though her free throw shooting (90.3 percent on 7.8 attempts per game) buoyed her own scoring efficiency a bit, Seattle wasn’t going to win many games with their primary offensive option missing so many shots.

Loyd has course-corrected recently, however, totaling 50 points on 18-for-37 (48.6 percent) shooting in the Storm’s last two games. It was only a matter of time before she got going, of course, and working alongside Diggins-Smith should, in theory, make both guards’ jobs easier given how much defensive attention each of them draw.

The good news for the Storm is that no such acclimation period has been needed for Nneka Ogwumike. Save for an ankle injury that kept her out of two games, Ogwumike has been her typical reliable self, leading the team in points (21.3), rebounds (8.3) and steals per game (2.3) while shooting 63.2 percent from the floor. If Seattle’s backcourt continues to have growing pains—and chances are it will—Ogwumike will be there to ensure the Storm remain competitive.

What’s next for the Storm

The Storm will take a trip across the Midwest this week, playing the Chicago Sky on Tuesday, May 28 and visiting the Fever on Thursday, May 30. According to Across the Timeline, here’s how the Storm’s main trio of players has played against the two teams during their respective careers:

  • Jewell Loyd: 16.9 points and four assists per game (vs. Chicago); 18.4 points and 3.1 assists per game (vs. Indiana)
  • Skylar Diggins-Smith: 18.7 points and 4.5 assists per game (vs. Chicago); 14 points and 4.7 assists per game (vs. Indiana)
  • Nneka Ogwumike: 17.6 points and eight rebounds per game (vs. Chicago); 18.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game (vs. Indiana)
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