The second-year guard has filled in admirably for the injured Sue Bird.
Coming into this season, the Seattle Storm knew it was going to be tough. Although they were fresh off winning a championship, Breanna Stewart was ruled out for the year with an Achilles injury.
To make matters worse, a few days before the start of the season, Sue Bird was also ruled out for the year with a knee injury. Down two of their top players, the rest of the team knew that if they were to remain afloat, somebody was going to have to step up.
As the season progressed, it was clear that the player whose number was going to be called upon was Jordin Canada.
The second-year guard out of UCLA emerged as a dependable reserve last season on the road to the Storm’s third title in franchise history. This season, however, she was thrown into the starting point guard spot from the get-go. She missed a couple of games due to injury, but she’s been the motor that’s kept the Storm running.
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“I have a bigger role and a bigger responsibility for the team. There’s obviously been some ups and downs, I’m always going to go through adversity no matter what level I’m at in the pros,” Canada told High Post Hoops. “It’s been a good transition. I’ve had some bumps in the road, but I’m just trying to continue to keep growing and keep learning.”
Stepping into the shoes of a legend like Bird isn’t easy, especially for a young player. But Canada has done that in a big way. In college, she showed glimpses of the player she could become in the league.
At UCLA, she was one of the Pac-12 conference’s top floor leaders. She could do it all, she could score, she could create for her teammates and keep the offense flowing, and she could lock up and get key defensive stops. All of that has translated to the WNBA, especially this season.
Canada is averaging 9.8 points per game, 5.2 assists, and 2.2 steals. She’s had a couple of games this season in which she registered double-digits in assists; she had 12 in a win over the Dallas Wings on July 12 and 10 in a win over the Phoenix Mercury on Sept. 3. She scored a then career-high 21 points in a win over the Atlanta Dream on Sept 1.
She’s put the team on her back at times and helped steady the ship with the poise of a veteran. She knew that she had no other choice but to do so. In the Storm’s first-round playoff win over the Minnesota Lynx, it was Canada who led the way with 26 points, four assists, three rebounds, and two steals.
“I have to be a leader, be the spark for the team on the defensive end, making sure I’m getting my teammates involved early,” Canada said. “It’s my IQ, being able to see the floor better, being able to attack better and create for my teammates. Also continuing to be aggressive and being that defensive spark for the team.”
Seattle head coach Dan Hughes has been impressed with the way Canada has responded to the increased responsibilities. It’s been a major transition for her, but she’s stepped up to the plate and matured into a true floor general.
“It’s been huge. She went through last year getting acclimated to the league, this year she’s had to acclimate being a starter, dealing with game planning, dealing with extended minutes, kind of the wear and tear of the season,” Hughes said. “But it’s a step that’s going to ultimately be very positive for her because she’s learning the game in a real way as a starting point guard.”
Canada’s steady hand helped the Storm finish with a winning record at 18-16. No matter what happens for them in the playoffs, it should be considered a successful season for Seattle considering the challenges they faced from the get-go.
The number one reason for the team having done as well as they have has been the mindset from everybody in the locker room. Canada knew that it was going to take a major effort from every player on the roster, and that’s exactly what happened.
“We have that next man mentality this season. We knew coming into this season there was going to be some adversity with the injuries that we had, but it’s not about who’s not here, it’s about who is here,” Canada said. “Everybody’s had a chance to step up in some way no matter who’s been out. Everybody has shown that we still have that resiliency, that fight, we’re a really good basketball team.”
And no matter what happens in the playoffs, they’re going to keep showing that fight.
“Everybody’s been stepping up in some way, shape, or form, and we’ve all contributed,” Canada said. “We just have to keep building that chemistry and keeping fighting and showing the resiliency of this team.”
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