June 30, 2022 

Tina Charles with the Storm: too good to be true?

Tina Charles joined the Storm on Wednesday and is already making an impact

Tina Charles has arrived in Seattle! After a few days of speculation from fans about where Charles would end up after her “contract divorce” with the Phoenix Mercury, the Storm officially announced Tuesday morning that the 2012 WNBA MVP and eight-time WNBA All-Star was on her way to the Emerald City. The Storm also included that Charles would be ready to suit up for their home game versus Las Vegas on Wednesday night.

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Leading up to the game, there were questions about how a player of Charles’ caliber would fit in with the chemistry of this Seattle team. Being added halfway through the season to an already stacked team could create some issues for the Storm, who are sitting nicely at No. 4 in the league standings right now (and could move up to No. 1 by winning their next two games against Indiana and Atlanta).

The Storm’s roster already features three 2022 WNBA All-Stars in Jewell Loyd, Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird. In addition to the young phenom, Ezi Magbegor, who is having a breakout season for the Storm, averaging 12.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game and leading the WNBA in blocks per game.

While this Seattle team has been pretty successful even before this acquisition, head coach Noelle Quinn is quick to admit that the Storm have struggled with rebounding and getting baskets in the paint, so much so that Seattle has the lowest number of attempted points in the paint of any WNBA team this season. So when Charles became available for the Storm to add to their roster, it seemed like an answered prayer for the Storm.

“We knew it was only going to help our team and help our roster,” Stewart said about the Storm acquiring Charles, “Especially when we needed a little more post depth, she’s the perfect person. She’s one of the best out there and to have her as a part of our roster was really exciting.”

Charles was ready to accept the challenge of increasing the Storm’s rebounding numbers. “They had a need and I wanted to be able to fill it in any way I can… For the last 13 years, it’s been my rebounding and my scoring. I like to think that I’m still very present in both areas,” Charles said, “With whatever minutes are thrown my way, whatever opportunities, whichever groups, I’ll be there to help.”

This acquisition also seemed like an answered prayer for Charles, who discussed the reasons for her separation from Phoenix and her excitement to join the Storm. “You know, I didn’t go in to the season thinking I would switch teams. That’s never been something that I’ve done in my career,” Charles said, “But at this point in my career and what I’m trying to get out of it at the end of the day, it’s how I want to be coached and what type of culture I want to be a part of. It was very imperative for me, championships or not, what am I surrounded by? That’s what it was for me.”

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We got a glimpse of how Charles fits in, on and off the court, in her debut with the Storm in their exciting 88-78 win over the Aces on Wednesday.

After touching down in Seattle on Tuesday morning and being immediately rushed to her first and only practice with the Storm before her first game, Charles seemed to already be pretty integrated with the rest of the team. While her minutes in the Aces game were limited, Storm fans got a preview of this new Tina Charles in the Seattle era.

In just 16 minutes on the floor, Charles had 5 rebounds for the Storm (3rd most on the team behind Stewart and Magbegor, who both played over 25 minutes). Charles finished with 4 points and had some great looks in the paint.

Aside from her stats, Quinn emphasized that Tina’s most impactful role in the game was her ability and willingness to create opportunities for her teammates. “I remember a play where she’s wide open, but she hits Steph [Talbot] on the wing for a 3. Just adapting to the way that we play automatically is good to see,” Quinn said, “We have to work on getting her in spots to be successful, but to have a player of her caliber on the floor is going to help everybody else.”

Stewart reflected on how Charles helped the Storm win, “Last night, our energy was way better. Our confidence across the board, from the starting unit to our second unit, was a lot better and I think that’s credit to Tina. That’s a credit to the type of person and the type of player she is. Adding her to our roster just makes us even more unguardable.”

Wednesday’s win showed how Charles’ connections with players such as Bird, Loyd and Stewart (who she has played with for USA Basketball) and Epiphanny Prince (who Charles has known since they were 10 years old and they played four years together with the New York Liberty) can create more opportunities for those players and make the transition to the Storm a bit smoother for Charles.

“Honestly, coming here, I knew what I was coming in to. I knew what opportunities would be presented to me,” Charles said, “I’m very fortunate to have played with Epiphanny Prince, Jewell Loyd, Breanna Stewart, and Sue Bird, and it’s always been a joy. It’s always been fun. We’re all able to be productive on the court and then knowing them on a personal level definitely helped with the decision [to come to Seattle].”

It seems like Charles’ chemistry with the Storm is too good to be true on and off the court. She is making opportunities for her teammates to be successful, getting Seattle’s rebounding numbers up and getting some points in the paint on the Storm’s box score.

But there are still some lingering concerns going forward into the rest of the season. The match against the Aces was the first time in Charles’ 13-year career that she was not in the starting lineup. One of the major concerns with this roster change was the inevitable drop in minutes on the floor for Magbegor, who has averaged 30.3 minutes per game and, as mentioned before, has been a dominating force for the Storm this season. Magbegor started the game on Wednesday, but there was a noticeable drop in her minutes from 30 against the Sparks on Sunday to 24 against the Aces. This number will likely continue to drop as Magbegor becomes more acclimated with the team.

When asked about future changes in the starting lineup, Quinn said, “I don’t have an answer for that right now. This is just the first few days working her into our system, but she was amazing. Her positivity, unselfishness, understanding of where to be on the floor… As the season goes, we’ll see how we can best utilize her.”

Tina Charles will take the floor again on Friday night at Climate Pledge Arena when the Storm hosts the Indiana Fever at 7:00 PST.

Written by Rowan Schaberg

Rowan Schaberg (she/her) is a Seattle native covering the Seattle Storm for The Next. She is currently studying Sports Journalism at Colorado State University.

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