Seattle Storm: The Season So Far

Seattle suddenly looks like a contender again. But can they keep it up?

The Seattle Storm have moved from a young core with two of the most promising young players in the WNBA the past two seasons, to one of the best teams with two of the best players in the league, period. They sit at 10-4, which is good for second place behind Los Angeles heading into week 6. According to Basketball-Reference.com, they have the highest rated offense in the league. What has moved Seattle from playoff also-ran to legitimate title-contender this season? First, let's focus on what has made them so good this year, and if you've been paying attention at all, it's the continued ascendance of Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart.

Now in her fourth season in the league, Loyd stats basically all have continued to improve season by season. This year her points, assists, and rebounds per game are all up from last year, and her turnovers are down. She has had a few up and down games in the month of June, but she is still holding steady at the team's second-leading scorer at 18 points per game, which is good for tenth league-wide.

The other half of the Storm's dynamic duo is Breanna Stewart, who is currently leading the league in points per game and is also our own Hashtag Basketball WNBA Player Rankings' top-rated player. She is averaging a league-best 21.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, good for 6th, 1.6 blocks, also good for 6th, but she is 9th in turnovers at 2.6 per game. Overall, she looks like a very strong contender for MVP. 

The other big part of Seattle's great start to this season has been Natasha Howard. The 5-year veteran forward is the new #3 for the Storm, and her coming to Seattle continues to look like one of the best moves any team made this past winter. She is averaging 13 points, 6.8 rebounds, and is in third place league-wide with 1.9 blocks per game. She has made the most of her opportunity with her new team with career highs in almost every category. 

Sue Bird continues to play pretty darn well most games, as do the rest of the role players on the roster. Bird and Alysha Clark have missed games recently due to injury, but they both continue to contribute well in the starting lineup alongside Stewart, Loyd, and Howard. Rookie Jordin Canada continues to get decent minutes and is chipping in 6 points and 3 assists per game. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis has continued her steady and strong 3-point shooting off the bench, but long-time teammate Crystal Langhorne has really seen a dip in production and minutes due to the emergence of Howard. 

The biggest questions for the Storm going forward this season will be their health, their defense, and their bench. I expect the trio of Stewart, Loyd, and Howard to continue to play well, but they will need to remain injury free. Individually, many players on the team can play good, even great defense at times, but their overall team defense is only so-so. They will need to step it up defensively, especially come playoff time. Teams like the Mercury, the Sparks, and the Lynx could knock them out if they can't hang on on the defensive end. Lastly, they will need the bench to find more consistency and play better overall. When one of the starters is out for a game or more, I have serious doubts as to who will step in off the bench and play well. But even when the starting five is healthy, the second unit needs to be able to make an impact during those limited minutes when a starter is taking a breather at the end of the quarter.

If you are Seattle Storm fan, you couldn't have asked for a better start to the 2018 campaign. And you should be very optimistic about this' team's future, not just in the long term, but their chances and a real playoff run in September.

  

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