The Seattle Storm (18-8) has the top record in the Western Conference and the second best in the WNBA overall. The team is led by not only Sue Bird, Jewell Loyd, and Breanna Stewart, and they also added Tina Charles to the fold has also made this team as close to a cheat code as any team can get.
“It’s hard for people to guard us. Just look at our lineup; it’s a lot of greatness on this team.” Stewart said per The Next Hoops about the Storm’s lineup of weapons.
The one weapon that deserves some more praise is Gabby Williams, the former UConn standout that has averaged 6.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game on 40.9 percent shooting from the field during her first season with the Storm.
One thing that makes Williams’ career unique is that her games have grown more while she played overseas instead of while she was stateside with the Chicago Sky and now with the Storm. Williams played two years playing in Hungary with Storm teammate Briann January where they won the 2022 Euroleague Championship, and Williams won the EuroLeague Final Four MVP after scoring 17 points in the final, 14 in the semis, and 32 in the quarterfinals.
“I think it’s given me an opportunity to play what I feel is my true position,” Williams said when asked what’s made her play so well overseas. “In Chicago, I was bounced between backup point guard and forward, and I could never prove myself as a true wing player. So I think overseas, I just gained that confidence with the ball in my hands, with my shot, with my facilitating, all of those things came with getting those reps in overseas.”
Although Williams was born and raised in the States, she is bilingual and claims dual French citizenship. Williams represented France during the Tokyo Olympics, leading the national team to a bronze medal finish. Throughout her time with the French national team, Williams had her support system there, namely her family and French fans that traveled to Tokyo.
Williams now has more French teammates in the WNBA in Marine Johannes and Iliana Rupert in the League.
“Seeing the rise of French basketball and seeing Marine and Iliana in the W is so freaking cool,” Gabby said, “The three of us are really close, so it’s nice. We’re always checking in on each other, talking to each other every day. Outside of being really good friends, I’m just a fan of both of them. I watch their highlights and everything. I love seeing them in the league.”
Her younger sister, Jayda Noble, is a student at Washington, where she plays for the school women’s basketball team. The two have a close relationship, and Noble and her UDub teammates are often in the Climate Pledge Arena every chance they get.
“It’s so fun. My sister comes with me everywhere. She’s like my little homie. She’s not traveling or anything right now, so I can text her whenever and she’ll be over. She even watches my cat while I’m gone; it’s just so cool.”
Her relationship with her teammates is vital too. Strong enough that they’ve empowered Williams to play a career-high 25.2 minutes per game and has started every game this season.
“Gabby’s amazing. I don’t think she realizes how amazing she can be,” Storm guard Jewell Loyd said, “She’s like one of my favorite players. She’s teaching me French, we’re watching Avatar together, we’re bonding a lot. She’s just the best.” (Gabby, hearing this while walking past Jewell, jokingly replied, “Oh stop it!”).
Williams said she’s particularly proud of her growth as a facilitator. She’s not focused on scoring once she touches the ball but on creating for others. She wants to ensure she’s doing “something” because it helps the team when she collapses defense. Coach Noelle Quinn said she is a fan of Williams’ defense and that she can count on Williams to cover the most formidable perimeter threat.
Heading into the final stretch of the season, Williams said she wants to be more efficient as a shooter, saying that she wants to get more confident and comfortable so that she can help open things up for her teammates and use the threat of her jumper to create for her teammates and herself when necessary.
The Storm and Mercury face off on Friday, the final meeting between Bird and Diana Taurasi.