Here at Storm Chasers we're always looking for new ways to engage the fans. So ahead of the 2016 WNBA Draft, we polled six Storm fans to get their take on some important questions heading into this season. This is Part 1 of a two part series.
Question 1: What are you most looking forward to during the upcoming 2016 season?
Colin (Swish Appeal): Having the team have a more balanced schedule where there is no prolonged road trip; so fans won't have to wait over two weeks to see the team play.
David (Bring Back Our Sonics): Seeing how good Breanna Stewart really is as a WNBA Rookie. I would expect her to be the ROY and to have a bigger impact than Jewell Loyd did last year, probably averaging at least 14 ppg and blocking quite a few shots.
Joe Veyera (Women's Hoops World): The development of Jewell Loyd. I think she made some real strides in her rookie season, and I'm excited to see how she's grown as a player overseas with Galatasaray.
Angela (Storm season ticket holder): I am most looking forward to our #1 draft pick, also just being back in the Key, and the excitement of a new season!
Joe Chong (Bring Back Our Sonics): This youth movement that is on-going, especially with Breanna Stewart joining the team. I hope we rebuild as fast as possible to get back to playoff basketball. After the exciting run from the UW Women's team in the NCAA Tournament, I am itching for the WNBA.
CJ (Storm season ticket holder): I am looking forward to seeing the return on our recent "Sucking for Stewie" (Tanking for Talent) campaign/investment. A tactic I personally find deplorable, but has become the norm in the past 4 years, in the WNBA. Since the Storm has set a precedent with "back to back" number 1 picks with LJ and Sue, I (and the rest of the fans) will expect to make the playoffs this year and win it next year. Perhaps Breanna Stewart's presence in Seattle will get Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (KML) out of her shell and back into the game she excelled at in college.
2. Which returning player from 2015 do you expect to be the most improved player on the team this year?
Colin: Markeisha Gatling.
David: Jewell Loyd should be a lot better after getting over her Rookie jitters. I think she'll challenge Breanna Stewart for the leading scorer on the Storm with at least 14 ppg.
Joe V: Loyd, but I'll put Ramu Tokashiki close behind. Her transition from being a big fish in a small pond in the WJBL to a WNBA starter certainly wasn't easy, so I think having a familiarity with the league can only help in her second go around.
Angela: Which returning player do I believe will be the most improved, well this one is a hard one. I believe there will be a few that have improved greatly, Jewell and Kaleena getting more experience playing overseas; also Gatling has been putting in work overseas and back here, hitting the gym hard. I look forward to seeing her tear it up this season.
Joe C: I don't know enough about the Storm since this will be the first season I will passionately follow, but I expect Sue Bird to have a more healthy season than last.
CJ: Ramu Tokashiki
3. What is your projected starting lineup for this year?
Colin: The lineup I want to see: Bird, Loyd, Stewart, Tokashiki, Gatling. What we'll likely see: Bird, Loyd, Clark, Stewart, Tokashiki.
David: 1 - Sue Bird, 2 - Jewell Loyd, 3/4 - Breanna Stewart, 4/3 - Ramu Tokashiki, 5 - Crystal Langhorne. I think that's their best team, but several players should get significant minutes off the bench, including Monica Wright, Alysha Clark, Markeisha Gatling, maybe Abby Bishop, KML, and possibly Jenna. That would be 11 out of 12 on the roster already and there are many more coming to camp so something's got to give somewhere along the line.
Joe V: Loyd and Bird as the guards, with some mix of Langhorne, Tokashiki, and Stewart in the post. Obviously, that's a really basic look at it, but I don't know if we'll actually see a defined 3, 4, and 5, or if the roles are going to be much more fluid. Frankly, the skillset of those three would have me hoping the latter is true.
Angela: My projected line-up is hard, considering we don't fully know Abby's status. I see Bird, Loyd, Clark, Langhorne (if she isn't traded) and Tokashiki.
Joe: I'd have to check ESPN for that.
CJ: If we go with the Storm keeping the pick and taking Breanna Stewart, and you force me to think like Jenny Boucek (JB), it will change every game, based the age of our players (You know, the youth movement that is 50% 1980's babies and 50% 1990 babies). Plus with the "Position less" approach that JB is pursuing, I will give it a try: Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd, Sue Bird, Ramu Tokashiki and Alysha Clark (I would love to start a solid 3-point shooting ball-handler- in shape, but we don't seem to own one of those); as KML lacks the conditioning to be beneficial as a starter.
4. Would you ever consider trading the #1 pick? If so, what would it take?
Colin: Consider it: Yes. Realistically, I don't see anybody being able to offer enough for it. I'd take Chiney Ogumike, #3, #4, #15 and their 2017 first rounder. Nothing less. Even then, it would be hard pull the trigger.
David: Are you out of your freaking mind? We have a chance to draft the second coming of Lauren Jackson in a little smaller package and you would consider trading the pick? If someone put a gun to my head, I'd say it would take Maya Moore and Minnesota's 1st Round pick in 2016 & 2017 and I might have them throw in Lindsey Whalen for good measure. In other words, no way!
Joe V: If there's a package out there of healthy, top-level talent, all on one team that could make a trade feasible, I haven't seen it. Even if there was, I still doubt I'd do it.
Angela: NO!!!!! I wouldn't trade the #1 pick, Stewart is a game changer, she reminds me of LJ. I don't think as an organization looking toward the future that we could afford to pass her up.
Joe C: Absolutely not, mortgaging the future is not a great idea and there are many teams that have made that mistake where those draft picks turned into potential hall of fame players. And then the players that the team got in return were overpaid and only effective for 3-4 years.
CJ: No, not with the player of her generation available.
5. Do you expect the Storm to make any more trades (maybe during the draft) before the season begins?
Colin: Yes. The combination of an overload at both the wing and the low post along with the uncertainty with Olympic commitments, something will have to give. Langhorne and O'Hea are both exemplary pieces but both have been made redundant by roster additions from this offseason.
David: Not really. I'm not sure why they would do that. Unless, of course, they're trying to acquire Moriah Jefferson in this Draft to be their PG of the future. Then they would need to give up a lot like next year's #1 plus a key player like Crystal Langhorne, and that's probably not enough.
Joe V: With a full training camp roster as it is, I doubt we'll see any further player movement. Though, if Jillian Alleyne is still sitting on the board late in the second round, and the Storm want to move up a few spots, I wouldn't be opposed.
Angela: I could see maybe a trade with Langhorne.
Joe C: It's possible they could try to trade back up into the 2nd round; because they traded away their 2nd round pick for 2016, last season.
CJ: I sure hope so, we have more baggage than SeaTac. Problem with our baggage is, you have to have appealing luggage that someone would want to steal off the carousel. We are very limited in our appealing players, and those we have are the "RE-Building Blocks/Foundation" JB keeps telling us about.
That concludes part one of our two-part series. I want to take a moment to thank all my guests who participated in this Storm fan roundtable. Please make sure to come back tomorrow for Part 2 of the Seattle Storm Fan Q&A Roundtable.