February 21, 2023
Jade Melbourne signing ushers in new Storm era
Melbourne joins an extensive list of other Australians who have played in the Emerald City over the franchise’s 22-year history
On Monday, the Seattle Storm announced the signing of Australian point guard Jade Melbourne. Melbourne, a native of her namesake city in Australia, was selected 33rd in the 2022 WNBA Draft by the Storm at age 19 but chose to forego the 2022 season to continue to develop her game.
Melbourne joins an extensive list of other Australians who have played in the Emerald City over the franchise’s 22-year history, including legend Lauren Jackson and young phenom Ezi Magbegor, who recently re-signed with the team. Joining Magbegor and Melbourne on Seattle’s short roster is another Australian citizen, Sami Whitcomb, who both of the young Aussies have experience playing alongside. Whitcomb began her WNBA career by playing four seasons with the Storm before a two-season stint in New York and is now returning to Seattle for the 2023 season. In an introductory press conference, Whitcomb mentioned her excitement to bring the veteran experience she gained with the Liberty to this young Storm team and raved about her WNBL opponent turned WNBA teammate.
“She is just such a tough player, a really exciting player. She plays very freely, very loose, and she’s very skilled already,” Whitcomb said of Melbourne, “So it’s really tough to scout her because she just does whatever she wants in the moment and makes really great reads. She’s an Energizer Bunny; she works really hard, she’s fast, she’s really good in transition, she can shoot the ball… What will be fun is seeing her at this next level and seeing how all of that translates and how she’s able to continue to develop and grow in those areas. She’s a really exciting young player that people are really going to love because she’s just a ball of energy.”
In her third season playing professionally, Melbourne has started all 17 games this season for the Canberra Capitals of the WNBL and is currently averaging 13 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.5 assists. Less than a week before the announcement of her signing, she recorded the third triple-double in the past 10 years in the WNBL with 19 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds. In addition to her current statistics, Melbourne averaged 20.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 4.7 assists with the Ballarat Miners of NBL1 in 2022.
It is clear that this 19-year-old’s talent will only continue to grow. Melbourne is a well-rounded point guard who has the ability to make opportunities for her teammates and execute tough passes but can also make her own opportunities and get to the rim. With Seattle’s resident point guard, Sue Bird, now in retirement, Melbourne will have ample opportunities to get experience as a WNBA floor general. Since the mass exodus of most of the Storm’s 2022 roster, Seattle has signed 10 new faces, including guard Yvonne Turner and Kia Nurse, who will presumably share the point guard spot with Melbourne.
Jewell Loyd, the only remaining member of Seattle’s “big three,” along with new guard additions Arella Guirantes and Kaila Charles, will pair nicely with Melbourne’s play-making abilities. Safe to say that Mercedes Russell, a big fan of the classic pick-and-roll, will enjoy having another elite passer at point when she makes her return to the Storm in 2023.
If Magbegor’s career in Seattle is any indication, Seattle management has a great eye for young Australian talent that can translate to the WNBA. At only 22 years old, Magbegor averaged 9.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks for the Storm in her third WNBA season. This campaign also earned her a spot on the All-Defensive Second Team. If they continue on the path that they are on now, Magbegor and Melbourne could potentially be the next Jackson/Bird center/point guard duo in this new post-Bird and Breanna Stewart chapter of Seattle basketball. Both still very early in their professional careers, the sky is the limit for both of these young talents, especially now that they are teaming up in the Emerald City.