How Tina Charles can bolster the Seattle Storm’s WNBA title hopes

The Seattle Storm on Tuesday officially announced what everyone had been expecting since the “divorce” of center Tina Charles of the Phoenix Mercury was announced three days earlier: she is en route to the Pacific Northwest.

Charles has signed a season-long contract with the Storm, who are currently 11-7 and fourth in the WNBA.

Guard Sue Bird, part of all four Storm Championship teams, will retire after this season. Charles will now be part of the search for Bird with another WNBA title – while also trying to win the first of her own career.

Charles averaged 17.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 16 games for the Mercury, with whom she signed as a free agent in February. Charles was reportedly unhappy with her role in Phoenix (8-12), which has won two straight games since her departure.

Charles, 33, has had a Hall of Famer-worthy career dating back to her two NCAA championships at UConn, but a WNBA title has eluded her. Seattle will be her fifth stop in the WNBA, followed by the Connecticut Sun, New York Liberty, Washington Mystics and Phoenix.

How will Charles, the 2012 WNBA MVP, match up with the Storm? Does Their Addition Boost Seattle’s Championship Hopes? ESPN’s Kevin Pelton, Alexa Philippou and Mechelle Voepel look ahead to Seattle’s big midseason move.

Halfway through his 36-game regular season schedule and with two 2022 All-Stars already on the starting lineup, why does the Storm want Charles?

Things haven’t gone according to plan in Seattle this summer as center Mercedes Russell – who signed a three-year deal with the Storm last offseason – has been restricted to five games and is currently being treated for recurrent, atypical headache syndrome.

Ezi Magbegor has emerged as a rising star in the league and helped make Russell’s absence feel less acute, but the Forward struggles elsewhere: In particular, they’ve struggled massively to get their reserves going or really much consistent offense from Getting Someone Outside by Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd and Magbegor. While the Seattle starters have a net rating of 19.1, the Storm’s next two most common lineups come – Briann January, Jantel Lavender, Loyd, Stewart and Gabby Williams, followed by January, Epiphanny Prince, Lavender, Stephanie Talbot and Magbegor – to -19.4 and -9.6, respectively. Even with a strong season from Magbegor, Seattle ranks last in the league in rebound percentage (46.4%) and 11th in points in the suit (29.1).

After Bird made it official that 2022 would be her last season in the WNBA — and the looming possibility of Stewart finding a new home in free agency next season — the Storm is looking to go all out this season to win the WNBA -winning title. Bringing Charles in to amp up their frontcourt depth, especially while Russell is sidelined, and to add a surefire offensive weapon makes them a much more dangerous team on paper, capable of winning a championship. — Philip

How could Seattle use Charles in their lineup?

That could depend on what Storm Charles said in the process of her reinstatement after she chose the Mercury over Seattle as a free agent in February. A source told ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss that the decision was based on a disagreement over how Storm Charles would deploy.

From a basketball standpoint, Charles would be best off the bench on both frontcourt spots behind Stewart and Magbegor, the role veteran Jantel Lavender has played in Russell’s absence this season. But Charles has never jumped off the bench in her career and can rightly point to the fact that he led the WNBA in scoring just last year, at a time considered unthinkable.

If Charles has to start, Seattle coach Noelle Quinn has an interesting decision to make. Magbegor played far too well to justify losing her starting job. So could the storm start a huge frontcourt with Stewart as small forward alongside Charles and Magbegor? There’s probably just enough shots to make it work on offense, but that would mean Loyd would have to defend the opponent’s top wingers-scorer – a role Seattle inherited from current small forward Gabby Williams to fill, eh she did it skillfully on defense.

Moving Stewart to the small forward could also buy Russell a few more minutes down center when she’s back in the lineup. The Storm signed Russell to a three-year, $160,000-a-year deal this offseason. according to, so they’ll want to find her a role if she’s sane. — pelton

Charles was reportedly dissatisfied with her role in the Mercury crime and her number of shot attempts. Can those numbers improve on an offense in Seattle that already has another MVP post player?

I’m not sure how much more Charles expects offense to run through her than she did in Phoenix, where she averaged 14.8 shots per game. Loyd is now averaging as many, Stewart at 16.3.

Stewart is 27 and in the running for her second MVP, having previously won in 2018 when The Storm won the championship. There was no other post player close to Stewart’s caliber at Phoenix since Griner was imprisoned in Russia, so Charles’ situation was different there. Charles could see the Storm allowing her to be at least as effective in court as she was for the Mercury, but with a potentially much greater payoff. — Voepel

How does the addition of Charles change the Storm’s 2022 Championship hopes?

It changes it for the better – or for the worse. The better has been set forth in what Charles brings in terms of immediate and significant impact. the worse? If the chemistry is disrupted, it might be difficult to get it back. A hallmark of the Bird Loyd Stewart championship teams is that they have shared the glory and turned their backs on each other. The biggest disruptive factor for Seattle has simply been injuries, particularly to Stewart, who was out for all of 2019 and the end of the regular season/playoffs last year. If Charles is willing to be a part of that cohesion, the storm will definitely become a bigger threat. — Voepel

What are the biggest pros and cons of Charles joining the Storm at this point in the season?

The biggest advantage is simply that Charles is a great player talent-wise, someone who gets a lot of attention from opposing defense and is a strong defender herself. On paper, it seems the best possible scenario for Seattle, who needs help from the Post and just got it at the expense of a rival.

The biggest downside, honestly, is that Charles can be difficult to play with when things aren’t going the way she wants them to. The advantage for the Storm is that they already have three players who were USA Basketball teammates and who know Charles well in Bird, Loyd and Stewart. Charles clearly didn’t think the Mercury would help her win a championship, so it would make sense that she would go all-in with Seattle now. In this respect, their attitude could be very different than it seemed during their short stay in Phoenix. — Voepel

What does Storm’s roster look like next season?

As I wrote when Bird announced this will be their final season, there are more questions than answers at this point about the 2023 Storm, with Stewart heading towards unrestricted free reign and the team’s core moniker already in use at Loyd.

If Stewart ends up leaving and Charles enjoying her time in Seattle this year, she could take on a bigger offensive role as a focal point alongside Loyd and Magbegor (who will be reserved next season and can only negotiate a new contract with the Storm). . Given that Charles turns 34 in December, it wouldn’t necessarily be a long-term fix if Seattle loses the two-time Finals MVP, but it could mitigate the impact in 2023. pelton How Tina Charles can bolster the Seattle Storm’s WNBA title hopes

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