Editor's note: Each week, Maggie Hendricks will highlight a success story in her "WNBA's best" column.
On Friday night, the Storm were tied with the Dallas Wings near the end of overtime. Jewell Loyd already had 22 points. To avoid another overtime, someone on the Storm had to make a big play. Breanna Stewart set the perfect screen, Loyd set her feet and then let the game winner fly.
Yep, Jewell Loyd did that. And she has been making plays and helping Seattle to one of the best records in the league all season long.
It’s easy to focus on Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird when talking about the Storm. Stewart has an MVP and two finals MVPs. Bird is a living legend. But if you only pay attention to them, you’re missing all that Loyd is bringing to the court.
Loyd currently ranks sixth in the league in points per game with 20.7. She adds another 4.8 assists per game. She was named the league's Player of the Week, along with Connecticut's Jonquel Jones.
But what’s so impressive about Loyd is how she seems to get better when the pressure is on. Last season, her late-game three pushed the Storm ahead of the Sparks with just a few games left in the regular season.
“You hear it all the time about people who have the clutch gene. She embraces those moments. She embraces the big shot and trust that it’s going to go in,” Stewart said about Loyd after Friday’s game. “When you shoot those shots, you have to have the confidence that it’s going to go in, but also be at peace with yourself if it doesn’t go in. She has that.”
What’s scary for competitors is that Loyd seems to be entering her prime. She’s 27 years old, and is playing in her seventh season. Her points and assist numbers have steadily risen over the last three seasons. Her plus/minus and assist-to-turnover ration have also risen over the last three seasons. And when you throw in her late-game heroics, and how the more she shoots, the more comfortable she will get shooting at the end of the game, she definitely shouldn’t be overlooked.