Natasha Howard was traded by the Minnesota Lynx to the Seattle Storm. What will her role be?
By Matt Hallett
When the Seattle Storm traded two draft picks for Natasha Howard they appeared to be trying to go deeper into the playoffs than they did than last year. Sue Bird is coming to the end of her career and the Storm want to send her out on the highest note possible.
To this end, the Storm went with a known entity of a player rather than a second-round draft pick. Howard is a solid role-player who can play either forward spot.
For her career, Howard has averaged 13.7 minutes, 5.6 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. These are not great numbers but coming off the bench they are a nice contribution.
Where Howard will work best for the Storm is she is long and athletic who is very mobile inside the paint. With Sue Bird at the point, if Howard can get herself free or on a mismatch, Bird is almost guaranteed to find her.
This will allow new Storm head coach, Dan Hughes, the ability to be flexible with his frontcourt line-ups. If Crystal Langhorne re-signs, Hughes is going to be able to play around with these match-ups.
If he wants to go big he could use Paris, Howard and Stewart to fill up the frontcourt. To play small, he could use Langhorne, Stewart and Alysha Clark.
While Howard does not have a great 3-point shot, only hitting 4-of-22 for her career (18.2 percent), she has a great face-up game. If she catches the ball inside the 3-point line, she can take her defender to the rim. Howard can then take the shot or kick the ball out to a waiting shooter.
The Storm do not have a great defense so they rely on the scoring more than their opposition to win. If Howard is able to engineer open shots, this will help the Storm win more games this season, potentially pushing them into a higher seeding.
One thing is for sure when you get Howard on a team, you get a player who plays with heart.