January 13, 2022
Seattle Storm season in review: Katie Lou Samuelson
The Storm season reviews move to a surprising breakout heisted out of Dallas
Position: Small forward (76%), power forward (23%), 2-guard (1%)
Base stats: 27 GP (24 GS), 21.0 min, 7.0 pts, 45.6% fg%, 35.1% 3p% on 2.7 3pa, 3.5 reb, 1.7 ast
Key advanced stats: +5.0 on-court plus/minus, -1.0 net plus/minus, 55.8% true-shooting (75th %ile), 16.5% FT rate (27th %ile)
Shooting splits: 16.6 ft. average shot distance (70th %ile); 16.5% of attempts from 3-10 ft. (34th %ile), 46.8% 3PA rate (73rd %ile); 71.4% fg% at rim (81st %ile), 53.8% fg% from 3-10 ft. (88th %ile), 46.7% fg% on “long twos” (89th %ile); 100% of threes assisted; 29.7% of threes from the corner (90th %ile), 22.7% fg% on corner threes (21st %ile)
Pre-/post-Olympic splits: Pre — 34.0% 3p%; Post — 37.0% 3p%
Play-type stats: 1.359 points per transition (88th %ile), 1.278 points per handoff (91st %ile), 0.649 points per spot-up (34.9% eFG, 14th %ile), 1.222 points per uncontested catch-and-shoot (70th %ile); 0.732 points defending PnRs (75th %ile)
Being able to be in a system where I feel comfortable, I feel confident, has been great with Seattle. I think for me personally, I feel like I had a lot of growth in this offseason of, like, re-finding myself and my confidence as a player. And I know there’s been some ups and downs even in this season, but I feel like I’m starting to move on the right track, in terms of being fully confident and believing in yourself every single day — because when you don’t, no one else will. It’s been a journey to get here. And I’m looking to build on this season and build as a player myself as I move forward.Samuelson
I think, for Lou, especially within her young career, as a coach and as an organization and a staff, with a player like that, you have to continue to help them grow in a way that they feel good about their contributions and what they can do. Because we know that she can hoop. We know that she can help us in a lot of ways.Head coach Noelle Quinn
Best game: Aug. 18, @ New York — career-high 15 points, 6-for-10 FG, 3-for-7 3pt., four rebounds, two assists, one steal, two blocks, two turnovers, 29 min
Samuelson came to the Storm as part of what was effectively a three-team trade, moving the No. 1 pick to Dallas, Natasha Howard and Sami Whitcomb to New York, and Samuelson and Stephanie Talbot and a bunch of picks to Seattle. Samuelson herself was technically traded with a mid-second-rounder directly for the No. 1-overall pick, an indication at the time of how lowly GMs thought of the 2021 rookie class. Now, it’s safe to say the Storm completely fleeced the Wings.
Samuelson acclimated perfectly to the Storm, starting 24-of-27 games and providing valuable contributions in every facet of the game. The off-ball guard/wing was ostensibly brought in to provide shooting and started the year hot before cooling off in the weeks leading into the Olympic break. By that point, however, she’d proven herself more than just a spot-up shooter. Her weakside and rotational defense were excellent, and she’d proven good at staying ahead of ball-handlers. She demonstrated the same great level of passing ability she had at UConn, even with limited passing vision.
Samuelson even closed the season having shot 37.0% from three after the break, pulling her season mark to an easily-career-high. Given the extent to which she and head coach Noelle Quinn talked about trusting the process and sticking with her and rebuilding confidence, it’s likely that the best is yet to come. And that’s especially after spending the Wubble on a Dallas team where her minutes and usage fluctuated arbitrarily.
There’s still significant room for improvement on the offensive end: She’s getting more comfortable with elbow jumpers; she shot unsustainably poorly from the corner; Seattle’s using her more in PnRs; she’s had a weird bounce in her spot-up form since UConn that turns a quick release into a long one. Some of those things can be trained out, some can’t; if she can get to a fluid catch-and-shoot motion like Bird’s — something Samuelson is quite capable of — then there’s a heck of a player hiding in plain sight.
Current contract: Fourth year of rookie-scale contract under old CBA ($72,141 in 2022, RFA in 2023)
Offseason Outlook: Will return
Quite simply, the Storm aren’t going to find a better defender and potentially better shooter for Samuelson’s salary (the veteran minimum). With how well she fits in their scheme and the team likely set to need a couple of rookies to balance the cap sheet, she’s a no-brainer to return to the starting lineup.