Storm rookies show shine in preseason loss to Mercury 

Photo by Aaron Nelson / fi360 News

Seattle, WA – A new age of Seattle Storm basketball is underway, showing reasons for both hope and worry in their first preseason game ahead of the 2023 season. The young Storm team started out with a lineup of veterans, and that group shot out with an immediate 11-0 run and grew a lead that reached 17 at one point. It looked like Seattle was going to be able to use their group of “misfits” to come together and truly play as a team to get victories, but things started to fall apart in the third quarter when the team simply couldn’t get stops on the Mercury. The Storm rookies attempted to mount a comeback in the dying moments of the fourth quarter, but failed to prevent Phoenix from furthering their lead.  

The beginning of this game very much looked like the type of Storm basketball that we’ve become accustomed to in recent memory, as who else but Jewell Loyd buried a three-pointer to open the scoring and begin a Seattle run. Veteran Yvonne Turner, starting the night as the Storm point guard, buried a three-pointer to follow up Loyd. Kia Nurse joined in to make it a trifecta of triples to begin this game and it felt like we were watching the big three of Bird-Stewart-Loyd with different faces. Nurse added two free throws before Phoenix was finally able to break through and end the run, as legend Diana Taurasi buried a three. The run had featured critical perimeter play on both ends, with the Mercury missing three of their four shots from beyond the arc.  

While Phoenix did close the gap to two by the team the first fifteen minutes had ended, the injection of some Storm youth onto the court helped Seattle build a strong lead that had hopes running high. Jordan Horston, the ninth overall selection in this past year’s draft, brought a spark of offensive versatility and defensive range. Rookie point guard Jade Melbourne, drafted in 2021 but played another year professionally before joining the team this year, was able to hang with the veterans even if she got roughed up a bit. It was encouraging to see the Storm get impact minutes from these rookie guards in their first ever game against real competition, as those two very likely could be a huge part of the future of this franchise.  

As everyone expected, this Storm team did have some injuries hold them back in this game, and the rough stretch that they faced ended up playing a big factor into why they lost this game. Out of the halftime break, the Mercury (with their starters now resting) were able to blow by the Seattle defenders on the court and force the Storm into bad shots throughout the third quarter. Seattle went on to miss their first three field goals of that quarter, and couldn’t stop Phoenix inside the paint or outside on the perimeter. The Mercury were playing good basketball, and clamped down the Storm as if the first half never happened. Seattle was only able to knock down four field goals in those fifteen minutes, all within three-point range. Although Ezi Magbegor did get a one-point lead back during the Phoenix surge, the Mercury regained the advantage and never looked back.  

Before their opening night battle against the reigning WNBA Champion Las Vegas Aces, a team that somehow got better this offseason, Seattle will play one more exhibition game. The Storm will head down to California for a closed scrimmage in Los Angeles against the Sparks on May 14th. Head coach Noelle Quinn said that Seattle still has a ton to figure out when it comes to the roster and the necessary decisions needed to be made to trim down before the regular season deadline, and the remainder of training camp and this scrimmage should help the coaching staff and front office figure out who wears a Storm jersey this year.