This is part of a 12-team series of fantasy women's basketball previews leading up to the 2022 WNBA season. For more information on ESPN's newest fantasy game, check out how to play fantasy women's basketball.
Head coach: Noelle Quinn (2nd season)
2021 record: 21-11
2021 offensive efficiency: (103.6, 4th in WNBA)
2021 defensive efficiency: (98.4, 5th)
2021 pace: (96.2, 5th)
About the Storm
Although the reigning champion WNBA team lost key contributors in free agency, the trio of Sue Bird, Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart was primed to win its fifth championship heading into the 2021 season with a roster full of new players and a new coach -- Quinn took over the reins after Dan Hughes stepped down six games into the season.
The Storm prospered during the first half of the season, but struggled thereafter. Seattle had difficulty closing out games, and Stewart was injured. After dropping to No. 4 seed, the Storm were eliminated by the Phoenix Mercury.
Seattle's top four scorers, as well as seven of its top 12 players, were free agents in the offseason. Despite this, the Storm re-signed Bird, Loyd and Stewart for what could be their final season together, and the team is a legitimate playoff contender. Additionally, Seattle made some additions this offseason as the Storm are in win-now mode and seeking another championship.
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Prepare with projections and fantasy outlooks for the top WNBA players
In addition to the Storm's big three, there are some additions for 2022. Gabby Williams replaces Katie Lou Samuelson at forward. She is more versatile than Samuelson. Williams has commitments with the French national team, so her contract was suspended for the 2021 season. Recently, she was named EuroLeague Final Four MVP after leading Sopron Basket to its first championship.
Briann January, meanwhile, brings experience from Indiana and Phoenix to the guard position. She ranks second in Fever history in games played (250), assists (909) and free throws (560). Additionally, January ranks third in points (2,244), 3-point field goals (242) and steals (285). In the Storm's rotation, she is a key player as either a starter or a contributor off the bench.
The Storm's signing of 2016 Sixth Woman of the Year and champion Jantel Lavender is also excellent. With the Fever, she averaged 6.4 PPG, 3.9 RPG and 1.5 APG in 20.0 minutes per game while starting 14 games last season.
The Storm had multiple picks in the WNBA draft, including three second-round picks and a third-round pick. At guard and forward, Seattle has veteran leadership and prioritized promising young players to increase its depth in the draft.
The Storm selected Elissa Cunane at No. 17, Evina Westbrook at No. 21 and Jade Melbourne at No. 33. Cunnane is the most notable name among this group, and it was shocking to see her fall out of the first round. Her position battle with Lavender for the backup center spot will be one to watch during training camp.
Putting up 85 PPG last season, the Storm were the second-highest scoring team in 2021. Seattle was also excellent at making 3-pointers. In fact, just under 38% of its shots were made from 3-point range.
As a team, the Storm were also excellent in transition, averaging nearly 12 points per game on the break. Furthermore, Seattle had an effective field goal percentage of 51%.
Top fantasy options
Breanna Stewart, C (41.2 projected FP/G): During her career, Stewart became the fastest player in league history to record 2,500 points and 1,000 rebounds. Before missing the final two games of last season with a foot injury, she averaged 20.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. Stewart's injury history is her primary downside. Her left Achilles was operated on in the offseason, her second Achilles surgery since she entered the league in 2016. Although she should be available to open 2022, Stewart has a higher injury risk than others at the top of the draft board.
Jewell Loyd, G (30.4 FP/G): As a first-team All-WNBA selection, Lloyd averaged 17.9 points, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game a season ago, all career highs. She scored 25 or more points seven times, which tied for third most for a player during the 2021 season. Loyd, who is one of three players to receive the core designation this offseason, should see a lot of action for the Storm this year.
Sue Bird, G (22.3 FP/G): Bird is the longest-tenured player in the league, and many expect this to be her final year. Sixth on the WNBA career scoring list (6,561 points), and no one has managed to record more assists and play in more games than she has thus far. Bird finished fifth in the WNBA in assists in 2021, averaging 5.3 per game. She also posted a league-best turnover-to-assist ratio of 3.40.
Gabby Williams, F (18.0 FP/G): As mentioned above, Williams just completed a stellar EuroLeague season. Her versatility will allow her to accumulate a lot of minutes and collect a lot of offensive and defensive stats for fantasy managers. Williams averaged a career high 7.7 PPG and 25 MPG with the Chicago Sky in 2020. She scored 10 or more points in seven games. With the Storm, she has a chance to set new per-game highs in multiple statistical categories. Williams is a player to keep an eye on if you're looking for an upside player later in your fantasy draft.