Jewell Loyd is Seattle Storm’s emerging star

Loyd is an intriguing candidate to replace Sue Bird whenever the 15-year veteran and future Hall of Famer decides to retire.

Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird watched from the sideline as Storm star Jewell Loyd took over the final minutes of Thursday’s training-camp practice.

With the ball in her hands, she sprinted and spun around defenders for layups. When the scout team blocked her path to the basket, she pulled up for midrange jumpers or floaters.

And when the defense adjusted and tilted toward the 5-foot-10 sensation, she fearlessly split double-teams with dribble-drives to the rim or flipped passes to teammates for open shots.

It was a glimpse into a possible future for Loyd — an emerging 23-year-old standout and an intriguing candidate to replace Bird whenever the 15-year veteran and future Hall of Famer decides to retire.

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“Sue is still here and she’s still dominating and I’m not going to mess with anything that’s working,” Loyd said. “Being the (playmaker) is Sue’s job, and she’s great at it.

“At times in one-on-one situations or late in the shot clock, the ball is probably going to be in my hands and I get to make a play for me and Stewie and Sue is in the corner. But for the most part, that’s Sue’s job.”

For now.

Loyd’s versatility gives the Storm options unlike many WNBA teams in a league where post and wing players comprised the top six scorers last season.

Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi ranked seventh and led all guards at 17.8 points per game while Loyd — eighth overall — was next at 16.5.

In the NBA, point guards such as Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Isaiah Thomas rank among the game’s stars because of their scoring prowess.

Meanwhile, the top WNBA point guards fill the role of pass-first playmakers like Bird, who led the league with 5.8 assists while averaging 12.8 points.

Still, converting Loyd to point guard the way the Houston Rockets did this season with Harden, an MVP front-runner, remains a possibility.

“Jewell has that ability to score and set up her teammates,” Bird said. “She’s still evolving in all of that. As you get older, you find out … that basketball is a game of when to, and not a game of how to. Jewell knows how to do all of it. It’s about her figuring out when to. When to attack. When to set your teammates up.

“James Harden is obviously an exceptional player and that system is all about the threes they shoot and spreading teams out. That’s kind of what we have. To have all of those threats and then attack.”

Coach Jenny Boucek said Loyd, who averaged 3.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds last season, could be a triple-double threat in 2017.

“As a team we want to take what the defense gives us, and Jewell has the talent to make them pay in a lot of different ways,” Boucek said. “We want her to have the ability to read…

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