A healthy Lauren Jackson hopes to take part in the postseason for the first time in three seasons in 2010.
Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE/Getty Images

Season Outlook

Heading into 2010, Seattle finds itself in a good position. Yes, they haven't advanced past the first round of the WNBA playoffs since 2004, when they won it all (let's get that one out of the way early), but every other team in the Western Conference is getting the preseason attention and the pressure that comes with it. Everyone wants to know if Phoenix can repeat without Cappie Pondexter, to see how well Candace Parker and the Sparks will do now that Lisa Leslie is gone, if Minnesota can finally break through and make the playoffs, whether the new-look Silver Stars can regain their 2008 form and what impact the Tulsa Shock will have after months of build up.

The issue might be that outside of donning "Bing" on their jerseys this season, the 2010 Storm have no real hook.

The cornerstones are the same, with Lauren Jackson re-signing and Sue Bird and Swin Cash still in the fold. Brian Agler's coaching staff is still around, so the system hasn't changed. Even the role players present only a slightly different look than what the Storm had to work with in 2009, with Seattle losing Janell Burse, Shannon Johnson and Katie Gearlds and bringing in Le'coe Willingham, Svetlana Abrosimova, Loree Moore and rookie Alison Lacey.

Despite the lack of buzz, the Storm have as good a chance to win it all as Phoenix, Los Angeles, Indiana and other top contenders, and the aforementioned star power and continuity are huge reasons why.

One thing you can always count on the from the Storm is a strong regular season. The team hasn't finished below .500 since 2001 and the past two years the team has finished second in the West. And with most of its key players taking part in camp this year, a strong start for Seattle seems inevitable.

Of course, the problems for the Storm never seem to occur early on, but rather when the end of the regular season/start of playoffs roll around. For the past two years, Jackson has been set back by an injury during the stretch run. Last year, for the second straight season she missed the posteason entirely while the Storm suffered a hard-fought, three-game series loss to the Sparks.

Even though she's only 29, Jackson's health is always the x-factor for Seattle because of all the basketball she's played in her career. And knowing that, Agler might have to be careful with her minutes this year so that she's plenty rested come September. That's easier said than done though, and will require the lesser-known players in the frontcourt to step up moreso than usual so Jackson doesn't have to put up 20 and 10 each night for Seattle to win. As a result, the Storm will look for increased scoring out of second-year player Ashley Walker, consistent rebounding from free agent signee Willingham and both out of Camille Little.

Bird will no doubt live up to her superstar role again in 2010, but she could have the most backcourt help she's had in years with Tanisha Wright coming off a breakout year and steady veteran Moore and talented rookie Lacey backing things up.

Lack of consistent production outside of Jackson and Bird has seemingly always been a hinderance for the Storm. For instance, in 2009, while the Storm were arguably the best defensive team in the WNBA, they finished 11th in the league in scoring (74.8 ppg). But if the supporting cast lives up to its potential in 2010 and everyone stays relatively healthy, Seattle could set itself up nicely for a championship run.


Mark Bodenrader

Player on the Spot


Walker
Coming out of Cal, Ashley Walker was regarded as a versatile big who could rebound and score in a multitude of ways, whether it be in the paint, from 15 feet out, or taking her defender off the dribble. She averaged 19.2 points per game during her senior season, which led the Pac-10, while shooting 54 percent. And the Storm needed more scoring up front, so the team selected her with the 12th overall pick in last year's draft.

But Walker was a non-factor for Seattle in her rookie campaign of 2009. Hampered by a toe injury she suffered in July, she played in only 13 games in the regular season, averaging 1.8 points and 6.9 minutes while shooting 25 percent from the floor. In the postseason series against Los Angeles, she managed just one minute of court time.

As a result, Walker wasn't even a sure thing to make the roster heading into camp this year and remains on the bubble. But if the preseason was any indication, Walker could not only make the team, but get a crack at holding down a spot in Agler's rotation in 2010 and be that extra scorer the team needs. It's difficult to put too much stock in preseason games, but Walker started both of the Storm's tilts, albeit with mixed results. In the first game, she scored a team-high 17 points while grabbing six rebounds. But in the most recent affair, Walker managed just three points and three boards in seven minutes of action.

In Walker, Cash, Little, Willingham, Jackson and Abrosimova, Agler has some options up front. And Agler is giving Walker the opportunity to grow into a larger role on the team and allow her to realize her potential. How she responds should have an impact on the Storm's 2010 campaign.

Mark Bodenrader




Projected Lineup

G.Sue Bird
G.Tanisha Wright
F.Swin Cash
F.Camille Little
C.Lauren Jackson

Players Added

F.Svetlana Abrosimova
F.Abby Bishop
F/C.Tijana Krivacevic
G.Alison Lacey
G.Loree Moore
F.Aja Parham
F.Jana Veselá
F.Le'coe Willingham

Players Lost

C.Suzy Batkovic-Brown
C.Janell Burse
G/F.Katie Gearlds
G/F.Shannon Johnson

2008 Leaders

PPGLauren Jackson19.2
RPGLauren Jackson7.0
APGSue Bird5.8
SPGSue Bird/Tanisha Wright1.52
BPGLauren Jackson1.73

Team Stats

Points Scored74.8(11th)
Points Allowed72.8(1st)
Field-Goal Percentage.430(6th)
Opponents’ FG%.410(3rd)
Rebounding Diff.+0.8(6th)

More »

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