Today the WNBA made a huge announcement as they have made significant changes to both the regular season and playoff season formats. The changes will go into effect this 2016 season. Here are the most noticeable changes:
- Top 8 teams regardless of conference will make the playoffs.
- More cross-conference play, the West will play Eastern Conference teams three times a year instead of just two.
- They've added an extra round to the playoffs (now 4 total) and the top two seeds get a bye to the 3rd round.
- ESPN networks will air every single post-season game.
You can read about all the new WNBA changes here.
The good news for Storm fans is that they will have more opportunities to see Eastern Conference teams. Over the next few years, this will give Storm crazies more opportunities to see WNBA stars like Elena Delle Donne, Tina Charles, Angel McCoughtry, and local-hero Shoni Schimmel.
However, this may also initially have a negative effect on the Storm's chances to make the post-season. Storm fans know that Seattle ended last season with the second worst record in the entire WNBA and yet, up until about the final week or two of the regular season, Seattle still had a shot at the 4th and final playoff spot in the West. This was due to the fact that last year the West really only had three quality playoff teams and the LA Sparks snuck into the playoffs with a 14-20 record. With the 2016 playoff alignment, the Los Angeles Sparks would have missed the playoffs and the Storm would have been behind Los Angeles, Atlanta and Connecticut for the eight and final playoff spot.
With the number one pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft, many Storm Crazies have been hopeful that the pick (presumably Breanna Stewart) could be enough to help us compete with LA for the 4th and final playoff spot in the west. Now Seattle will have to compete with not only the top four in the West, but potentially the 5th and 6th seeds in the East as well.
Overall, these changes should help the game grow and help feature the best players around the entire league.
Let us know what you think about the changes in the comments section and vote in our poll.