After winning their fourth championship in 2020 while inside the WNBA’s “Wubble,” the Seattle Storm has experienced an offseason of turnover.
Perhaps the biggest gut-punch came in free agency when Alysha Clark departed for the Washington Mystics, and Natasha Howard, whose rights were owned by the Storm, were traded to the New York Liberty where she will join 2020 No. 1 pick Sabrina Ionescu.
Filling the void left behind by either player will be challenging. Howard’s lock-down defense often took the pressure off Breanna Stewart, while Alysha Clark’s three-point shooting, veteran leadership, and defensive prowess will be hard to replace and rightfully so, she was a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
Ahead of Thursday’s virtual draft, Storm color analyst Elise Woodward joined Justin Myers to discuss the team’s most pressing needs. She also hinted at one player Seattle could snag if she’s still available at No. 11 overall.
“The Storm have a lot of things they need to fill in with this draft,” Woodward told Myers. “One player that I have my eyes on if she is available is a player that is very similar to Natasha Howard and her name is Natasha Mack out of Oklahoma State. She’s got 6-9 wingspan, but she’s only 6’4,” very good defensively, averaged 4.0 blocks per game.”
Mack’s body of work speaks volumes. This past season, the 6-foot-4 forward cemented her status as the best shot blocker in the country after breaking her own single-season record with 112 blocks. Her 4.0 blocks led the nation. Mack averaged 19.8 points and 12.4 rebounds as a senior and recorded 10 blocks in a single game on Jan. 6 at TCU.
The Lufkin, Texas native was Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, a unanimous Big-12 All-Defensive Team First-Team selection, a finalist for the Katrina McClain Award which recognizes the nation’s top power forward, and 2021 WBCA NCAA Division I Defensive Player of the Year. Players in recent years to win this award include DiDi Richards of Baylor (2020) and Teaira McCowan of Mississippi State (2019).
It’s quite possible that Sue Bird’s 20th season could be her last in the WNBA. Despite losing some critical members of the championship team, Seattle's desire to defend its championship title is at an all-time high. As Woodward detailed, Seattle’s best chance in doing so might be drafting Natasha Mack when they are on the clock.
That is, if Mack doesn’t hear her name called sooner.
“That’s the one player that if she’s still on the board at No. 11 for Seattle, Seattle fans should be very excited,” Woodward added.