December 29, 2020 

Seattle Storm player season review: Jordin Canada

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With a 3-point shot, Canada could become an even greater player in this league

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Jordin Canada #21 of the Seattle Storm drives to the basket against the Minnesota Lynx in Game three of the Semifinals of the WNBA Playoffs on September 27, 2020, at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

Jordin Canada is in an unusual spot for a player of her abilities. There’s little doubt she is a starting WNBA point guard. Canada handled the job well in 2019, her second season, and helped a Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart-less team to the playoffs. With Bird back for 2020, Canada handed the reins back to the future Hall of Famer. At least for now.

Some players may take exception to this. But Canada didn’t ask the Storm to choose between the two or voice a complaint. That is likely because Canada and Bird have a relationship going back to her college days at UCLA, and their mentor-mentee bond has continued through to the WNBA.

Canada again reminded the Storm that she is prepared to take over whenever Bird calls it a career. In 2020, Canada started all 11 games Bird missed with a bone bruise. In those games, Canada averaged 7.9 points, 5.5 assists, and 2.3 rebounds on 42.4 percent shooting.

As I have written before in this space, Canada’s hard-nosed and fearless playing style is a joy to watch. At all of 5’6, Canada is unafraid to barrel through the lane to the basket or box out, on top of her adept playmaking. On practically any other team in the league, Canada is a starter, and she will be one again for the Storm someday.

Can the Storm unlock Canada’s shot once again?

If there is one area Canada could improve, it’s her 3-point shooting. Canada shot 9.1 percent from beyond the arc. On a team teeming with shooters, the Storm don’t necessarily need her to light it up. Yet. Bird is a proficient outside shooter and Seattle would like to avoid too much of a drop-off when she retires.

Can Canada improve? There is a lot of evidence suggesting she can.

First off, take a look at Canada’s 3-point percentage at UCLA.

  • Freshman year: 13.0 percent on 23 attempts.

  • Sophomore year: 26.2 percent on 61 attempts.

  • Junior year: 35.4 percent on 82 attempts.

  • Senior year: 38.6 percent on 132 attempts.

Based on her own collegiate career, it seems Canada could increase her efficiency with more attempts. The jump from her sophomore season to her junior season is encouraging, but increasing her volume of 3-point shots by 50 in her senior season and seeing her efficiency increase is even more so.

Many smart draft people feel that free throw shooting is also a good indicator of shooting potential. Canada is a career 76 percent free throw shooter who shot 77.1 percent this season. She’s consistently a mid-to-high 70s shooter from the stripe.

A part of the problem may be Canada isn’t asked to shoot 3-pointers. After all, Canada can draw a defense in with her ability to drive the lane. From there, she can draw the contact or kick it out to a shooter. If the team needed her to shoot more treys, could her efficiency improve like in college?

Knowing when she took her shots from outside is also important. Are these good catch-and-shoot looks or are they mostly desperation shots to beat the shot clock? Because the quality of the shots matters.

Seeing Canada take more 3-pointers in 2021 would be a good case study. Based on her history, she is a much better shooter than her 17 percent career number suggests. Even if she began making 32 percent of her 3s, the team would be better off.

Giving a player fresh off a 9.1 percent 3-point season more of a green light sounds like madness, but it may not be outrageous for Canada. She made more 3-pointers in the collegiate season she took the most attempts. The Storm haven’t asked her to take these shots much, but this could be a good time to start.

With a 3-point shot, Canada could become an even greater player in this league.

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