Hey, the Storm still have players. The coaching staff will need to sort out who ultimately makes the team and where they are slotted, but there are quality options. Natasha Howard and Alysha Clark are the known quantities, and both should slot right back into their starting roles. Quinn named Clark as one of the players whose growth in the offseason she was most excited about.
But as productive as Howard and Clark are, they don’t have the size to make up for Stewart’s absence. Stewart is 6’4 and ranked fourth in the league last year in defensive rebound percentage. Courtney Paris may be the only lock to make the team who is Stewart’s height or above, and while she’s a fine role player, she cannot be expected to step in and play starter-caliber minutes. The same could be said for Mercedes Russell, who played sparingly as a rookie, and Ramu Tokashiki. Like Paris, they are fine players to have on the bench.
Seattle’s hope is that each of them, plus maybe a training camp invitee or two, can step up and do just a little bit more.
“I think a lot of people might say ‘oh, it’s by committee,’” Bird said when assessing her team’s frontcourt situation. “I take it a step further than that and say we’re going to be a different team without Stewie. And that’s ok. It doesn’t have to be worse. It’s just going to be different.”
“Different” doesn’t mean replacing Stewart’s production or presence, but maybe it’ll be enough to get by. Bird added that the newcomers, both in the post and backcourt, have more than held their own in practice.