The Seattle Storm are about to begin their 19th season in Seattle this Sunday as they face the Phoenix Mercury on opening night, May 20th at KeyArena. Before the season kicks off, we wanted to do a Round Table to discuss team expectations, new changes, impact players, concerns, and how the WNBA can continue to grow.
1) Will the Storm make the playoffs this year / where will the Storm finish record-wise this season?
Taylor Bartle - I think they will make the playoffs. They have the talent on paper to be a top team in this league, they just need to put it together. Some more depth would definitely be beneficial, but the current roster should be enough to get them in.
Jeff Brown - Yes, they’ll make the playoffs unless something catastrophic happens. They have too much talent not to finish in the Top 8 in the league. As far as where they’ll finish, I’d really like to see them make some big improvements this season. Last season they had a losing record 15-19 and were the 8th and final spot of the playoffs. This season, I’ll predict 18-16 good for 6th seed in the league. But honestly, they should be even better than that.
David Brown - They will absolutely make the playoffs with a much-improved record this season. From 15-19 last year, they will look like a different team as they finish 22-12 or better, good for at least 4th in the WNBA.
Miles DeCaro - The Storm will make the playoffs. Having Breanna Stewart should be enough to get a team into the WNBA playoffs, but add in Sue Bird, Alysha Clark, and Jewell Loyd and finishing less than 6th in the league should not happen with this roster. I think they’ll be 20-14.
Joe Chong - The Storm appear to have rebuilt their team well to help their rebounding and point guard depth issues. I also think the coaching will improve with Dan Hughes since I was no fan of Jenny Boucek. I believe the Storm will finally have a 20 win season which they haven’t had since 2011.
Josh Lovern - I think with the Storm’s big 3 (Stewart, Loyd, Bird) plus rookie Jordin Canada they should be able to be a top 3 team in the west with 20 wins.
Kevin Nesgoda - They look like a 20 win team to me on paper. Sue Bird is one of the best of all time, Stewart is going to be a top-five player in the league and Canada is loaded with tons of talent. They are going to be an exciting team to watch this year.
2) What needs to happen for the Storm to be a Top 5 team in the WNBA this year? (They finished 8th last year and 7th the year before)
Taylor Bartle - Stewie, Bird, and Loyd need to stay healthy and Canada needs to be able to lead the second unit. Picking up another big would help too, rebounding is an issue.
Jeff Brown - They’re going to need to get more contributions from their team beyond the Big 3. Stewie, Loyd, and Bird can compete with just about anyone, in fact, I specifically remember a game against Minnesota during Stewie’s rookie season where the Storm got up on the Lynx for most of the first quarter with the starters. As soon as both teams went to the bench, a 4-6 point lead turned into a double-digit deficit. That can’t happen if they want to be a Top 5 team this season and win roughly 20 games.
Crystal Langhorne, Alysha Clark, Natasha Howard, Courtney Paris, Jordin Canada, etc. are all going to have to make contributions.
David Brown - They will be a Top 5 team this year. What has to happen has happened already. They pulled off a truly great trade for the very dynamic Natasha Howard, who immediately improves their defense & their rebounding & doesn’t hurt their offense, either! Then they signed a good rebounding Center in Courtney Paris. Finally, they drafted their next superstar PG in Jordin Canada who is so good she will force the coach to play her big minutes.
Miles DeCaro - They need everyone to stay healthy as they don’t have great frontcourt depth. To move into the top 5, Jordin Canada will have to prove to be an effective leader and take some of the extra minutes Sue Bird has had to play the last few years. Alysha Clark needs to make a leap and they need to rebound better than they did last year.
Joe Chong - Take care of the rebounding problems, and hope that Canada has solved the backup PG problems that have arguably been issues since their Championship years.
Josh Lovern - The Storm needs to see consistency from a health standpoint from Stewart, Bird, and Loyd. As well as a having Clark continue to progress her frontcourt presence in the rebounding part of the game. Along with Canada being able to run the point effectively when she is playing with the starters.
Kevin Nesgoda - Health and consistency are the things that need to happen. This is not some sort of revelation either. Without either of those things, you are going to be picking at the top of the draft. If they stay healthy and play the way they can I see a deep playoff run in their future.
3) Who will have the biggest impact on the team that wasn’t on the team last year?
Taylor Bartle - Jordin Canada. I know that’s a lot of pressure to put on a rookie but she’s the new heir apparent to Sue Bird so the team will need her to fill that role. Big shoes to fill for certain.
Jeff Brown - I think there are 3 primary candidates: Rookie Jordin Canada, Natasha Howard (traded to Seattle from Minnesota) and Courtney Paris (signed in Free Agency). Unfortunately, Paris has not been in training camp at all and has been playing overseas, so it’s hard to see what type of impact she might have. We’ll probably have a better idea of what impact she has on the team after the first month of the season.
I think Jordin Canada certainly could be, but it’ll depend on how much playing time she gets. Last season Alexis Peterson was supposed to be in a backup role to Sue Bird but struggled to adjust to the WNBA from college and didn’t see much playing time at all. I expect Canada to get a much larger opportunity, but her minutes could be limited if new Coach Dan Hughes decides to rely heavily on his veterans.
I think the biggest impact player that wasn’t here last season will be Natasha Howard. Howard was a key bench player for the Minnesota Lynx during their recent championship runs. Howard could either start in Seattle to give them more height (6’2” compared to Clark at 5’11”) or be a massive upgrade off the bench. Howard can score, rebound, and defend well.
David Brown - Of all our new players, the one who will make the biggest impact on the Storm’s success is our super-Rookie, Jordin Canada. As long as she plays at least 22 mins per game, she has a great shot at being the WNBA ROY!! The other player who will have a major impact on the team is Natasha Howard. She would be an ideal SF for us at 6’2”, a great defender, very disruptive, a good rebounder & scorer, and she’s quite athletic. She may have difficulty wrestling minutes away from Alysha Clark at first, but that should change over the season. The other new impact player who could be huge for us is 6’4” 250-lb. Center, Courtney Paris. If she stays healthy, she should have a major impact, especially w our rebounding and defense.
Miles DeCaro - Jordin Canada. She’s being groomed to be the point guard of the future and will have every opportunity to take some pressure off of Sue Bird for her (sigh) inevitable retirement in the near future. She’ll have the chance to learn from one of the best PGs, if not the best PG, in WNBA history and could win Rookie of the Year if she plays to her potential.
Joe Chong - Jordin Canada
Josh Lovern - Jordin Canada simply put. She has the talent and basketball IQ to be a good floor general for this years Storm team. If she can get decent minutes I can see her averaging 10-12 ppg.
Kevin Nesgoda - It’s Canada. She has been tabbed as one of the big pieces of the future. No pressure, Jordin.
Make sure to come back tomorrow to find out who we think will make the All-Star team, what our biggest concerns are leading up to this season, and how the WNBA can continue to grow and attract new fans.