Here is Part 2 of our two-part Seattle Storm roundtable. In Part 1, we discussed our expectations of the upcoming season, what the Storm’s record might be, what it’ll take to become an elite team this season, and which player that wasn’t on the roster last season will have the greatest impact. You can read all of Part 1 at the link below:
In Part 2, we discuss who we think will make the All-Star team in 2018, what our biggest concerns are heading into this season, and what the WNBA can do to continue to improve attendance and greatly increase their fan base.
4) Who will make the All-Star team this season from the Storm?
Taylor Bartle - Stewie is a lock. Bird most likely is as well.
Jeff Brown - I agree with Taylor that Breanna Stewart is the most likely. Sue will probably get in based on reputation alone. Jewell Loyd almost made it last season and probably should have. If Loyd takes her game to an even higher level, Loyd could get elected to her first All-Star game.
David Brown - Our All-Stars are Stewie and Jewell Loyd, along w perennial All-Star Sue Bird. If Jordin develops rapidly, there’s a small chance that we could have 4 players on the All-Star team.
Miles DeCaro - Breanna Stewart is one of the best players in the world. She’ll be an All-Star without question. Jewell Loyd has a shot if she makes the leap this year. Sue Bird will get the legacy vote that she deserves but may see decreased minutes this year, so it may be more on reputation than actual numbers.
Joe Chong - Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart should be the sure bets to make it to the All-Star game, I think Sue Bird may drop off a little depending on how much playing time rookie point-guard Jordin Canada ends up getting.
Josh Lovern - Stewart but I can see Loyd and Bird with an outside shot as Canada if she is averaging 10-12 ppg like I have said earlier.
Kevin Nesgoda - I think Stewart is a lock. We could argue she’s the best at her position in the whole game. Bird could get in with Loyd and Canada being outside shots as well.
5) What is your biggest concern heading into this season?
Taylor Bartle - Rebounding. The team doesn’t have a reliable big body to get down low and do the dirty work.
Jeff Brown - Rebounding and bench contributions. The Storm’s bench has been incredibly weak for multiple seasons and needs to actually make a big impact this season if the Storm wants to get above the 7th or 8th seed. Seattle has also struggled against teams with strong post players like Fowles, Charles, and Griner; if Langhorne continues to start at Center this will always be a concern.
David Brown - I’m always concerned about avoiding injuries and I’m a little concerned about everyone meshing, but I think that will happen. I am more concerned about some of the veterans taking away minutes that could be better spent on our newcomers, like Noelle Quinn taking minutes away from Jordin Canada, or Alysha Clark taking too many minutes from Natasha Howard, or Crystal Langhorne taking minutes from Courtney Paris or Natasha Howard. We have a lot of very talented players and balancing minutes will be a tricky job for Coach Dan Hughes.
Miles DeCaro - A repeat of the rookie PG performance from last year. Integrating a rookie into the big leagues is tough, but I think Jordin Canada has it. Frontcourt depth has led to issues with rebounding whenever Stewie gets into any kind of foul trouble. The Storm may need one more big that does all the dirty work and cleans the glass to become real contenders.
Joe Chong - The biggest concerns I have are if our new players actually do make an impact that is supposed to help our point guard and rebounding problems. Another concern I have is the age of Sue Bird. Although she has been the most healthy in recent years, we need Jordin Canada to step up in case Sue Bird takes another drop off that could lead to retirement.
Josh Lovern - Need to see good bench play on a regular basis and being able to have someone outside of Stewart in the post producing positive minutes.
Kevin Nesgoda - Rebounding and the bench. Both areas are very light and need to be addressed.
6) How can the WNBA improve attendance / increase their fan base?
Taylor Bartle - I know Adam Silver suggested moving the season to align with the NBA. I’m torn on that, as I think having the season in the summer decreases competition. However, the fervor of NBA basketball is also decreased, which may affect attendance at WNBA games. I don’t have the answers.
I think getting the teams and players out there more would help a lot. Force 10 has been pushing this “Reign Storm” promotion this year, combining the Storm with the NWSL Seattle Reign for joint PR, which I think is a really smart idea.
It sucks hearing from people that women’s sports “don’t count” or whatever. It’s very frustrating to hear that just because they aren’t out there throwing down windmill dunks that the game is somehow less than.
I would like to see more investment from the NBA into the WNBA as far as promotion, TV contracts, etc. While the teams are all their own entity, the league as a whole is still part of the larger NBA family.
Jeff Brown - This is something that the league has been struggling with for a long time. There have been multiple suggestions, like learning about the personalities of the players, lowering the basketball hoops to 9 ft tall, etc. The most recent suggestion from NBA commissioner Adam Silver is that not enough young girls and women are showing interest in the WNBA and they need to get young girls to start following the league a lot more. I think in general that getting young girls and young boys to follow the WNBA is going to be a huge key to building a larger audience. I grew up with the Sonics, but I was still in my early teens when the Storm came into existence and started attending games. Because I grew up with both, it was natural for me to support the WNBA just like I did with the NBA.
I think continuing to build TV audience with better TV rights is also very important. The NBA is getting a huge amount of money from TV contracts and the WNBA needs to get a better portion of that or find ways to expand their own TV contracts. Also, having games streamed online through Twitter which is a huge platform is important and will hopefully allow the league to broaden their reach.
Lastly, there are two major issues I’ve seen. First, there are way too many disrespectful/sexist jerks out there that not only won’t support the league because it’s women athletes, but they constantly make horrible comments on social media about how Women’s Basketball isn’t a sport or that the players should be in the kitchen instead. This is unacceptable and it’s often made by men who are insecure and can’t play basketball themselves. Sadly, I don’t think these people will ever change their minds, which is why it’s so important that young boys start following the WNBA and falling in love with it at an early age.
Unfortunately, I also don’t believe the WNBA fan base is very welcoming. At times it feels like WNBA fans want to be an exclusive club and aren’t necessarily open to having other people join. A few examples I’ve seen: at times I would be at a Storm game wearing Sonics gear and some women would say negative comments to me as I passed by. Another time, I brought little kids (around 3rd-5th grade) to the Storm game as part of treating my basketball team to a Storm game. The kids would be wild and cheering loudly and using the bangers that they hand out, and I had a few women turn around and give a real stink eye at the kids because they were being louder than the average WNBA fan. I’ve also received some rude comments after posting articles about the Storm in the past. I’m sure a big reason why some of the WNBA fan bases can be negative to others and treat it like an exclusive club is that they deal with so many disrespectful men who make those kitchen comments and other rude remarks. But I hope that eventually, the fan base can learn to be more accepting of all types of fans - men, little kids, etc. It is really important for the growth of the league that they’re able to attract as many different fans as possible.
David Brown - The NBA could do a lot more to promote the WNBA and increase the players’ tiny salaries maybe through a bigger share of TV revenue from WNBA and also some from NBA games to help correct the gross inequities in pay scale. And a whole lot of guys have to stop being so sexist and start appreciating that this is damn good basketball. They need to know that NBA players respect WNBA players because of game respects game. I also think the league needs to expand to at least 14 teams to make more room for all the good players out there.
Miles DeCaro - This is a hard question and Adam Silver had some interesting ideas on this recently. There are three things that I think they could do to help.
1) Move the season from the summer to the normal basketball season of fall/winter. If you want to start in the spring, maybe piggyback off the NCAA tournament interest and start the season at the beginning of April right after the Final Four finishes.
There are people that like good basketball no matter what gender is playing, but competing with the beautiful weather in the summer chases away some more casual fans.
2) Include the WNBA games in the negotiations with the TV networks. These networks need live sports as they consistently get higher ratings than almost any other programming. That hasn’t been the case with women’s sports, but if the NBA negotiated the WNBA games as a package deal with their agreements with TNT and ESPN, the WNBA games would become more routine to see on TV. Set times during the week would make it easier follow the season for basketball fans.
3) More outreach to young people and youth organizations. I attended a Storm game last year with a summer child care and the kids were really into it and had a great time. Shortly thereafter, more kids expressed interest in playing and watching basketball. Most of the time, these kids just need to be exposed to high-level basketball to become interested and want to attend games. It’s not as simple as Marketing 101, but if you catch people while they’re young you can avoid the issues that have come up in the past.
If people are able to connect with these players early on, they will grow up valuing the product, want to go, watch the games on TV and their parents will take them.
Joe Chong - Tell Storm fans to stop attacking Sonics fans that attend Storm games, I hear stuff like “Get over it, they are not coming back” or “You have the Seattle Storm, that’s all you need”.
I am all for the WNBA growing as a league but the fan base needs to have a better attitude towards fans that pay money to watch the games even if they are not as established compared to the Day One Storm fans. I will admit, because of those kinds of people, I almost canceled my season tickets.
Josh Lovern- The WNBA needs to diversify the outlets they can be seen. I would also like to see cities that share NBA/WNBA hold doubleheaders. Give the fans two games for the price for 1 type of promotion.
Kevin Nesgoda - There needs to be more of an outreach like the NBA does. I’ve heard that the WNBA doesn’t attract enough young women into the stadiums or as a television audience. That is one thing that needs to be addressed. How can they reach the next generation of talent a lot like how the Sonics got the Jamal Crawfords, Nate Robinsons, and Isaiah Thomas’ of the world from the parks into the NBA. We need that type of outreach from the WNBA Players to the girls out there who are good at sports from the soccer fields and tennis courts to the gyms.
That wraps up our 2018 Seattle Storm Round Table. We look forward to discussing the Storm more this season in their quest for a third WNBA title. Seattle’s home-opener is this Sunday at 6:00pm against Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, and the Phoenix Mercury. We hope everyone comes out and enjoys what will most likely be the final Seattle Storm season at KeyArena this summer as construction is expected to begin around November of this year on the brand new arena at Seattle Center.