Seattle Storm: Midseason Report

Seattle is in first place in the league. What does the rest of the season hold?

Seattle looked flat at halftime on Sunday night against the Eastern Conference-leading Mystics. They were down at home after winning their fourth game in a row against the Dream on Friday night in Atlanta. But Sue Bird and the rest of the team came out in the third quarter firing from everywhere and outscored Washington 31-20. Both teams looked on as Sue Bird passed her former teammate and good friend Lauren Jackson for the franchise record for points scored at 6,008. Sue was, as she often is, the catalyst for the comeback. She scored 21 points and dished out 5 assists. But the rest of the team showed up as well. The top MVP candidate in the league, Breanna Stewart added 25 points and 10 rebounds. Jewell Loyd and Natasha Howard both had 9 points, and while Crystal Langhorne had an efficient 12 points and 6 rebounds in 17 minutes. They held off Elena Delle Donne and the rest of the Mystics in the fourth quarter to win their 15th game of the season and move into sole possession of 1st place in the league.

Seattle has the highest rated offense in the league, and Breanna Stewart is the biggest reason why. She is leading the league in points per game at 22.4 and is sixth in rebounds at 7.8 per game. Another big reason is Sue Bird who is second in the league in assists at 7.3 per game. Natasha Howard, Jewell Loyd, and Alysha Clark continue to round out a solid starting five. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, rookie Jordin Canada, and Crystal Langhorne are providing valuable minutes off the bench. 

The duo of Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart continues to be one of the most formidable in the league, but this Seattle team is not simply a two-star show. Sue Bird is playing just as well as she ever has, and Natasha Howard continues to anchor the post on both ends of the floor. Coach Dan Hughes has his team firing on all cylinders at the moment, and their success halfway through the season is evident in the fact that they are leading the league in shooting percentage as well as team assists per game. 

The question now is whether or not Seattle can continue to execute in the second half of the season as well as they have in the first. Most importantly they will need to stay healthy, as they have been fortunate to not have any very serious injuries thus far. Secondly, they will need everyone to continue to contribute night in and night out. Loyd has been up and down, but she has played well enough that I think she can continue to find her rhythm as the season continues. Stewart is the frontrunner for MVP right now, and she will need to continue to play at a very high level if they want to stay at the top of the league. Sue Bird is the captain and the leader of the team, and if Stewart is the motor of this team, Bird is the oil that keeps everything running smoothly. Lastly, as good as Seattle is on offense, they will need to play better team defense in the second half of the season. 

This team is completely capable of sustaining the success they had in the first half of the season and making a deep run into the playoffs. They have proven so far that they can outscore any other team in the league. They have the best player in the league in Breanna Stewart and two more of the best players, statistically speaking, in Loyd and Howard. They have one of the best veteran leaders in Sue Bird. Time will only tell if they can keep it all together and give them themselves a real shot at a third title this fall. 

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