SEATTLE — The Storm waived second-round draft pick Anriel Howard to make room on the 12-player roster for free agent Blake Dietrick, which shores up the depth at point guard.
Through five games, the Storm (3-2) have relied heavily on second-year veteran Jordin Canada, whose minutes have doubled from 16.4 as a rookie to 32.1 this season.
Canada may never admit it, but she needs help bearing the burden of directing Seattle’s offense.
During Tuesday’s 84-77 win over Minnesota, the 23-year-old point guard tied career-highs in minutes (34) and assists (7) while tallying a personal-best 17 points.
Canada, who leads the WNBA with 20 turnovers, also had five turnovers against the Lynx.
“We’re playing her a lot of minutes,” interim coach Gary Kloppenburg said. “Some of those turnovers were from fatigue. … Right now we need to play her heavy minutes with the lineups that we have. She’s young, I think she can handle it.”
Ever since perennial All-Star Sue Bird announced she would miss at least a significant portion of the season to repair an achy left knee, the Storm never truly had a viable plan for a backup point guard.
Shavonte Zellous filled the role in the first four games, but the 5-10 guard had been more of a defensive specialist than a playmaker during her 11-year career.
Once Zellous went down with a knee injury last Saturday at Chicago, the Storm turned to guards Jewell Loyd and Sami Whitcomb to temporarily direct the offense on Tuesday night with mixed results.
Loyd, who had a season-high 19 points, tallied four turnovers and three assists.
Meanwhile, Whitcomb, a three-point specialist who sank 3 of 4 shots behind the arc for nine points, had a career-high tying three turnovers without an assist in 11 minutes.
Dietrick, who makes her second stop in Seattle, gives the Storm a proven backup at point guard who is familiar with the team and its system.
The 5-10 guard from Princeton began her WNBA career in 2015 as an undrafted rookie who spent training camp with Washington and Los Angeles.
In 2016, Dietrick received an invitation to the Storm’s training camp, earned a spot on the opening-day roster and played in two regular-season games before being released. She also appeared in one game that season for the San Antonio Stars, which was coached by Seattle’s Dan Hughes at the time.
Between 2017-18, Dietrick played in Greece before returning to the WNBA and playing with the Atlanta Dream where she averaged 1.4 points, 0.4 assists and 7.2 minutes in 26 games last season.
Dietrick appeared in three exhibitions with Atlanta this year before being waived May 23.
Meanwhile, Howard had difficulty finding minutes in a crowded frontline that returned six veterans from a championship team. The 5-10 forward, who starred at Mississippi State, averaged 1.7 points, 1.0 rebounds and 6.5 minutes in three games.