We sent out a fan questionnaire ahead of the 2016 season. Check out what the fans had to say.
Today is the second part of our fan Q&A session leading up to the WNBA Draft today at 4:00pm. We discuss the season expectations for the Storm, new schedule and playoff format, the new logo redesign, how to draw in a larger audience of fans and more!
Question 6: Do you think the Storm will make the playoffs this season? Where exactly do you project the team this year?
Colin (Swish Appeal): They'll finish with a 16-18 record; either the first team out or the last team in the playoffs.
David (Bring Back Our Sonics): I expect the Storm to be a contender this year. They probably won't win the West, but are likely to finish 3rd or 4th, or possibly even 2nd.
Joe Veyera (Women's Hoops World): A couple of things will have to break right, but ultimately I believe they'll be the eighth best team in the 12-team league. It's going to take at least 16 wins, but I think they can do it.
Angela (Storm season ticket holder): With the way the team was looking at the end of last season and the new playoff setup, I definitely believe we will make the playoffs.
Joe Chong (Bring Back Our Sonics): Its really up in the air, it depends on the health of Sue Bird since we are a bit thin in the PG position, and we need to see the development of Reigning Rookie of the year, Jewell Loyd; also, it'll depend on how Stewart fits into the team. My prediction is they miss the playoffs with the more difficult playoff format.
CJ (Storm season ticket holder): Given the new playoff format, and the Olympics coming into play, that is a very difficult question, as at least four of our starters will be playing in RIO (Bird, Loyd, Stewart and Ramu). Will they be one of the top 8 teams in 2016? If we survive without injuries and JB doesn't do anything crazy with her coaching, we might squeak in, but it's a long shot. The East teams have become beasts and may dominate the playoffs. Although I don't anticipate any teams tanking for the rights to Kelsey Plum, so that adds a new dimension we have not seen in the past 4 years.
Question 7: Would you rather make the playoffs in 2016 or get another Top 3 Draft pick for 2017?
Colin: If the team makes the playoffs because they have improved enough to have sustained playoff success then getting in the playoffs is the better option. If they only make it because other teams have injuries or players missing, then it would be better to get another lottery pick to better ensure long-term success. Either way, I expect them to be MUCH better than the past two seasons.
David: I'd much rather make the playoffs this year. You never know how hot they could get by the end of the season and they might push all the way to the WNBA Finals.
Joe V: Between Stewart (presumably), Loyd, and Tokashiki, I think you already have a "Big Three" to build around. While another top pick would help, I'd rather have the buzz around the franchise that would come with a playoff appearance.
Angela: Make the playoffs, we have an amazing amount of talent and with the addition of the #1 draft pick, being most likely Stewart. I don't believe we need another top 3 pick.
Joe C: Although it's never a good idea to give your team an impression that you are tanking for draft picks, I would prefer to have an opportunity to get into the top 3 picks for 2017. The team right now looks too young to compete for the playoffs and even if we make it, we may only make it as lower seeds. With Kelsey plum potentially going as a top 3 in 2017, she is a once in a decade talent that can't be missed especially when Sue Bird is towards the end of her career. Plum has not only the talent but also the work ethic, leadership and passion for whoever she plays for. Plum and Stewart would be interesting.
CJ: I would rather see the Storm get back on the winning track. My biggest disappointment in the past two years was losing the record for most consecutive years in the playoffs . I am sick of tanking for talent (to get a higher pick), that has been allowed to occur throughout the league. The premier player coming out next year has been allowed to run the show, and shown signs of brilliance, followed by disgustingly selfish play that has cost her team wins. I have seen many a player like that become - one season wonders.
Question 8: What are your thoughts on the new schedule and playoff format change?
Colin: I am 50/50 on the new playoff format. I absolutely love the change to the top eight teams, regardless of conference, making it in.
I absolutely hate the return to single-elimination playoffs. While many will argue it lends to greater excitement because anything can happen, it in fact prevents fans of the lower seeded teams from seeing their teams play at home in the playoffs. It also means that 90%+ of the time, the higher seed will win. This is not the NCAA tournament where teams have never played each other before. This is the best league in the world and these players, coaches and organizations have played each other multiple times already. The excitement of an underdog knocking off the favorite is almost completely removed when said underdog has to play a team it has already lost to multiple times AND has to play the game on the favorite's home court.
David: I think it's a good idea to balance the schedule more and save travel time if they can and reward the 8 teams with the best records with playoff berths regardless of their Conference. That could easily mean 5 teams go to the playoffs from the West and 3 from the East or vice versa. The most extreme possibility would have six teams going from one conference and only two from the other, but that's pretty unlikely to happen. Even if it did, it would be fine since they'll be playing a more balanced schedule, so it really would be the best 8 teams.
Joe V: The schedule's going to be a killer when it comes to travel, but I like rewarding the top-eight teams when the league just isn't big enough to justify seeding by division. Single elimination in the first two rounds puts a higher premium on regular season success, another thing I appreciate.
Angela: I like the new schedule, I am not sure I like the one and done scenario in the early round of the playoffs.
Joe C: It's not a bad idea to have teams in both conferences square off against each other more often, but I do not like the idea of a one and done playoff. The playoff changes give me an impression that I would like to see the WNBA expand once again, specifically for Sacramento and Houston.
CJ: I like both changes. We get to see all teams, not just some teams every once in a while. I think the best teams should be playing for the prize. For so many years, one conference was dominate. The conference playoffs were exciting, while the Championship series was rather ho-hum. This format allows the best teams to play for the championship.
Question 9: Initial impressions on the new logo and color scheme change? Has that changed since you first saw it?
Colin: I am personally not a fan of the new color scheme. The combination of the neon yellow and the gray make it look like the printer ran low on ink while printing the logo. I would have loved to have seen a complete redesign of the logo, but the half-baked, WNBA controlled color pallet is beyond underwhelming. That said, neon yellow is one of, if not the most popular colors for young kids who play sports which bodes well for sales of Storm merchandise to that demographic. In all honesty, I'm just anxiously awaiting 2017 when Nike gets to design all the uniforms. This should mean much more originality and better designs across the entire WNBA.
David: It's fine. I don't think it's changed that much. The color scheme is a little more in line with the Sonics as they were when they left town.
Joe V: I don't understand what all the hubbub is about. The old color scheme was dated â and tied to the early 1990s Sonics, mind you â and I think the changes make it all a bit cleaner.
Angela: I love the new logo and the color changes, it has a more energetic feeling to me.
Joe C: I'm always up for logo change. Sometimes new is good, but I don't have a strong opinion on it.
CJ: My initial impression was negative. I felt it was playing on the Save the Sonics and the Chris Hansen Build a New Arena factions. Once I talked to Storm Marketing Staff about the 20th anniversary initiative and the limited pallet of colors provided by Adidas, I was a little more receptive. Now that I have seen the uniforms and the locker room, I am just praying we don't look like a John Deere dealership, not unlike the University of Oregon does, when NIKE takes over next year.
Question 10: How do you think the Storm can continue to grow their fan base and gain an even larger audience of fans?
Colin: Market players not named Sue Bird. Market the stories and rivalries between players and teams. Storylines are what fans are interested in. Not bobbleheads (though those can be cool too).
David: I think the Storm need to continue to offer a top-quality product and bring another Championship back to Seattle. That will help a lot. I'd probably look for more unpaid endorsements from celebrities, too. Maybe some concerts with the game. And drafting Kelsey Plum next year could be a wise PR move to sell tickets as well as improving the team a great deal.
Joe V: I would have said they needed a better TV deal, but their new agreement with JOEtv takes care of that. I really think it's just a matter of getting as many people as possible to see the product. Whatever preconceptions people may have, I really believe that getting them to watch a game or attend one in person is going to hook them. Even last season, record aside, the product on the floor was compelling.
Angela: I believe the Storm does a great job getting out in the community with camps and events. I also see commercials, billboards and radio spots for the Storm.
Joe C: As individuals, we must utilize Social media as much as possible even if some non WNBA fans criticize us; since they have not embraced the value of women's basketball yet. Take friends to the games as well and see if they would bring friends as well. For example, I was converted into a Storm fan through network of friends that took me to the games back in 2012. My biggest suggestion is teach other fans on why women's basketball should not be overlooked.
CJ: Start winning again. At least you will get back the fans they lost during the past two years of tanking for talent. Many of the fans, myself included, live outside the Metro-Seattle area. Driving 100 miles roundtrip to watch a team intentionally lose is disheartening, to say the least. All you have to do is look at the mid-season Mariner's game to see that Seattle fans like winners. I have witnessed KeyArena legitimately sold out in games against LA, back in the day. Now the Storm cannot sell out the lower bowl when they give the tickets away. Gimmicks will draw in fans for a single event, but if the product on the court is not a quality product, those one-timers will remain just that. The past two years of poor play have not only failed to draw in new fans, it has run-off season ticket holders who are not willing to invest in a team that doesn't invest in providing a competitive product.
Once again, I want to thank all six of my guests for participating in this roundtable discussion. If you haven't, make sure to go back and check out Part 1 of this series. And let's look forward to celebrating the number one overall pick, as the WNBA Draft airs today at 4:00pm on ESPN2.