By Seth Dahle
Jordin Canada doesn’t like to think about the online buzz and pressure that is certainly present, but at the same time indiscernible to the Los Angeles native.
Consistent predictions flooded mock drafts, and the same message reverberated in news headlines like a song on repeat.
The “…heir-apparent to Sue Bird…”
A player who can “learn from Sue Bird….”
“Everything points to Jordin Canada…”
And so on.
Canada smiles, still visibly giddy and excited about the reality of being a member of the Seattle Storm in an area she now calls her second home.
“No, I don’t feel the pressure,” she says with a grin. “I know my time will come. I know it’s a process. I know it’s going to take some time. It’s not just going to come right away.”
She’s right. It doesn’t matter how good you are – there’s always a brutal adjustment period for rookies, especially during training camp.
Welcome to the WNBA – where players are stronger, faster, wiser, bigger and quicker to make decisions.
“The pace is very different. The reads are different. I talked to Sue [Bird] about it earlier and got her advice on how I could get better, whether it’s keeping my dribble alive, reading the defense or pushing the pace a little more.”
Ah, there’s one thing the scouts and bloggers got right – Canada is learning from the best of the best in Bird, the league’s all-time assists leader.
Canada, who broke assist records of her own at UCLA and in the Pac-12 Conference, has become somewhat of a sponge, constantly absorbing knowledge from Bird and collecting advice and tips on certain scenarios, especially half-court reads.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, as every player, big or small, learns from Bird, a veteran who has even helped first-year head coach Dan Hughes in his transition to the team.
But Canada’s skillset alone is already helping her in the process of becoming a superb floor general in the WNBA.
She drives and kicks, finding shooters like Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd in the corner for three-pointers. She pushes tempo like no other, flying up the court while still maintaining control.
“She’s super intelligent,” said Loyd after her first practice with Canada. “She knows exactly where everyone is on the floor. Her ability to get through the lane, know there are shooters in the corners and give them perfect passes, that was something we noticed right away.”
And, as Hughes pointed out, she wreaks havoc defensively.
“She’s fast. She has an element that you notice in practice. I’m not only talking offensively with the ball, but I’m talking about defensively.”
As most newbies do during their first two days of camp, Canada stuck to her fortes and found an identity that way.
“I’m trying to make as much an impact as possible. I try to play my game, be a little more up-tempo when I come in and stick to my strengths.”
That was day one.
But Hughes wanted more. He sees ‘big picture’ and a structure that benefits the entire five on the court. A fast learner, Canada is already absorbing Hughes’ direction and vision.
“The first two days, Jordin played to her strengths, which are good, but she didn’t really use the structure of what we do as a team,” said Hughes. “Today was really fun because you could see her bring the structure and have the confidence to run the team.”
When asked about the city itself, Canada offered the most common answer, a staple and go-to of many new Seattleites.
“It rains a lot.”
But her ties to the Emerald City go much deeper. She played in Pac-12 tournaments at KeyArena throughout her college career, almost instantly capturing the hearts and awes of Storm fans with her boundless energy, heart and grit.
“The [fans] have seen me play in the Pac-12 tournament. The fact that I get to stay along the West Coast, close to California, and already have a fan base, it feels like home. I love that factor.”
Close to home? Get ready for some frequent visitors, Jordin.
“My mom texted me saying they’re going to the preseason game. I have friends telling me they’re coming up here when we have a home stretch of five games. I’m glad to be close so that can actually happen.”
The general consensus has certainly been established – Jordin is quick.
But that quality is clearly translating to aspects beyond the hardwood.
She’s quickly learning from the veterans like Bird, quickly adjusting to Hughes’ structure, quickly settling in the city of Seattle, and quickly emerging as a rookie to be reckoned with in 2018.