Defensive pressure from Seattle Storm guard Nika Mühl causes turnover in the WNBA preseason game against the Phoenix Mercury. 5/7/2024.

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Seattle Storm notebook: Mercedes Russell returns renewed, Nika Mühl comes prepared

SEATTLE — The Seattle Storm’s free agency additions have received the majority of attention heading into the 2024 season. However, contributions from bench players will be crucial for the Storm to compete for a WNBA championship. In particular, six-year veteran center Mercedes Russell and rookie point guard Nika Mühl could play big roles.

While Skylar Diggins-Smith is expected to play extensive minutes as the starting point guard, she is still returning to full fitness after giving birth to her second child. Seattle will need someone to take some of the load off her.

Ezi Magbegor will be the starting center and can play significant minutes, but she will also need a respite at times. Enter Mühl and Russell.
Nika Mühl crouches in a defensive stance with her arms out wide. She focuses intently on the ball that a male practice player is dribbling at her.
Nika Mühl defends a practice player on the first day of Seattle Storm train
After the team’s second preseason game against the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday, star guard Jewell Loyd stressed the importance of players coming off the bench and having no drop-off.

“That’s been a thing for us is making sure everyone knows that we need everybody,” she told reporters. “They’re here for a reason, and everyone has a skill and talent that we need.

They understand that; they believe that. So when they come and play, they know that there’s a level that we need to get at. Everyone needs to be there.”

Mühl comes to the WNBA ready to contribute, having played for a UConn program that has produced many professionals. The 28-year-old Russell returns to Seattle with renewed confidence after spending the offseason playing in Australia and winning the WNBL alongside Storm legend Lauren Jackson.