January 12, 2022 

Seattle Storm season in review: Stephanie Talbot

Sniper can help a lot of teams with spacing

Position: Small forward (93%), 2-guard (7%)

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Age: 26

Base stats: 30 GP (9 GS), 17.9 min, 5.7 pts, 48.3% fg%, 41.5% 3p% on 2.2 3pa, 0.3 fta, 1.6 ast, 1.6 tov

Key advanced stats: +10.0 on-court plus/minus, +7.6 net plus/minus, 58.4% true-shooting (79th %ile), 5.6% FT rate (eighth percentile), 14.1% ast% (57th %ile), 25.1% tov% (ninth percentile), 2.0% blk% (70th %ile)

Shooting splits: 17.5 ft. average shot distance (77th %ile); 6.3% of attempts from 10-16 ft., 45.5% of attempts from three (70th %ile); 73.1% fg% at rim (84th %ile), 55.6% fg% from 3-10 ft. (93rd %ile), 31.3% fg% on “long twos” (77th %ile); 69.0% of twos assisted (70th %ile); 63.6% fg% on corner threes

Pre-/post-Olympic splits: Pre — 13.0 points-per-36, 53.7% fg%, 51.5% 3p% on 1.8 3pa; post — 9.1 points-per-36, 40.5% fg%, 28.6% 3p% on 2.5 3pa

Play-type stats: 1.2 points per catch-and-shoot (60.0% eFG%, 81st %ile), 1.0 points per PnR (including passes, 86th %ile); 0.688 points allowed defending PnRs (83rd %ile), 0.667 points defending handoffs (78th %ile), 0.706 points defending off-screens (79th %ile)

Key quote:

Seattle’s somewhere I wanted to end up. Me and my agent had been having conversations about New York possibly not being the best fit for me, and where I would like to possibly end up. And Seattle was definitely at the top of my list. So having that trade come through was super exciting… I still feel like it was a good fit for me.

Best game: June 4, v. Dallas — 21 pts, 8-for-12 FG (4-5 3pt.), four rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, four fouls, 22 min

Steph Talbot came to Seattle in the first leg of what was effectively the Natasha Howard-No. 1 pick-Katie Lou Samuelson three-team trade. The Australian had opted to stay home during the Wubble after New York acquired her rights from Minnesota in a draft-day draft for a player who wouldn’t make it out of training camp. And the Storm got her rights included in the Natasha Howard/Sami Whitcomb trades just as she and her agent opened talks with the Liberty about heading somewhere like the Pacific Northwest.

Talbot turned out to be one heck of a throw-in for Seattle. The wing started the year on absolute fire, one of the top shooters in the WNBA on good volume through the All-Star break. Olympic fatigue and an unspecified injury hit her hard, though, experiencing the biggest drop-off of any player on the team. But for the season overall, she played quite well on both ends.

Talbot’s offense was basically solid overall, with close-to-average shot distribution across the board, but for a bit higher three attempt rate. And she finished quite well from most places, especially from close range and (before the Olympics) from three. She wasn’t a pure spot-up shooter, either; Talbot moved fairly well without the ball, made quick decisions, could handle enough to be a quaternary playmaker — yes I’m just making terms up now — and finished quite well whenever she was set up for a quality shot. And despite a favorite joke of the hosts of The Step Through, her functional athleticism was often excellent.

Talbot’s defense was mostly positive as well. She struggled mightily navigating over screens of any kind. But she was quite good in most other facets, preventing dribble penetration in isolation, or tracking off-ball, or making proper reads and rotations and switches. She did provide only a modicum of help defense overall, and was made to dance by face-up ball-handlers like Kelsey Mitchell and Arike Ogunbowale. Overall, though: Quite a good player, and more than just your basic 3-&-D wing.

Random highlight:

Current contract: Restricted free agent

Offseason outlook: Probably leaving?

Talbot fits perfectly on the 2022 Storm, and there’s little doubt in my mind that the front office would love to retain here. But it’s ultimately a problem of math: if Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd and Sue Bird all come back, they’re likely all on supermaxes. And unless Seattle wants to start a cheaper free agent like Stefanie Dolson, they’re going to have to pony up to retain Mercedes Russell. (Tina Charles is the other top-three-free-agent center, and she’d also cost a lot.) That leaves the team with about $100,000 and two draft picks left to spend on its three remaining roster spots.

Stephanie Talbot is worth a lot more than $100,000 AAV.

Now, if Loyd leaves, this changes. With only two supermaxes on the roster, the team could afford a Talbot re-signing and then some. Bird taking a pay cut to get closer to the lower max would also free up enough money, but hell if I know whether she’d do that (nor should she feel a need to).

Position data per WNBA Advanced Stats, shooting splits per Basketball Reference, play-type data per Synergy

Written by Em Adler

Em Adler (she/they) covers the WNBA at large and college basketball for The Next, with a focus on player development and the game behind the game.

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