Finishing the 2019 season with an 18-16 record, the 2018 WNBA Champion Seattle Storm qualified for the WNBA Playoffs for a fourth straight season and defeated the Lynx, 84-74, in Round 1. Although the Storm were eliminated by the Sparks in Round 2, they will have high hopes and look to contend for a title come 2020.
Let’s take a look back at the Storm’s 2019 season in review.
Leaders: Points (Howard, 18.1); Rebounds (Howard, 8.2); Assists (Canada, 5.2); Steals (Canada, 2.3); Blocks (Howard, 1.7)
The Emergence of Natasha Howard
In her sixth season in the league and second with Seattle, Natasha Howard took a massive jump forward in 2019. After coming off the bench throughout the first four years of her career, Howard started 33 of 34 games for the Storm in 2018. This past season, Howard emerged as one of the top forwards in the entire WNBA, and enjoyed career-highs in points (18.1), rebounds (8.2), assists (2.2) and steals (2.1) per game on her way to being named Defensive Player of the Year. Howard was a catalyst for the Storm, leading the team in three out of five major statistical categories (PPG, RPG, BPG) and proving that she is capable of being a franchise player. At just 28 years old, Howard appears to just be entering the prime of her career, which bodes well for the Storm moving forward.
Super Sophomore Jordin Canada
Selected No. 5 overall in the 2018 WNBA Draft out of UCLA, Jordin Canada spent the majority of her rookie season as a role player off the bench for the WNBA Champion Seattle Storm. With the absence of point guard Sue Bird in 2019, however, Canada stepped up to the plate and emerged as a go-to option for the Storm. In 2019, Canada started 29 of 30 games and averaged career-highs in points (9.8), assists (5.2), rebounds (2.4) and steals (2.2) per game. Canada also enjoyed a rise in her field goal, three-point and free-throw percentages. In 2019, Canada established herself as a versatile guard who is both a scoring and facilitating threat whenever on the court. Although Canada may see less opportunities when Bird returns in 2020, it appears that the Storm have found their point guard of the future.
Without Sue and Stew
In 2018, the Seattle Storm were on top of the world. Led by MVP Breanna Stewart and legend Sue Bird, the Storm defeated the Washington Mystics, 3-0, to win their third WNBA Finals in franchise history. A year later, the Storm were without both Stewart and Bird, who suffered injuries that cost them the entirety of the 2019 season. Since being drafted No. 1 overall in the 2002 WNBA Draft, Bird has established herself as one of the greatest players in league history. A 3x WNBA Champion, 11x WNBA All-Star, 5x All-WNBA First Team member and the all-time WNBA assists leader, Bird has played at a high level throughout the entirety of her career. Drafted No. 1 overall in the 2016 WNBA Draft, Stewart has established herself as one of the top players in the league over the past few seasons. After winning Rookie of the Year in 2016 and making her first All-Star appearance in 2017, Stewart had a breakthrough season in 2018, capping it off by winning both regular-season MVP and WNBA Finals MVP. The loss Stewart and Bird proved difficult for the Storm to overcome. The strength of the rest of their roster, however, was able to still secure them a playoff berth and Round 1 victory.
Moving forward, the future of the Storm is quite bright. Without their two best players, the Storm were still able to secure a playoff berth win their Round 1 matchup of the WNBA Playoffs. In 2020, they are on track to add both Stewart and Bird at full strength to their already impressive roster. This, along with the fact that the Storm control the 7th overall pick in the draft, make Seattle a serious title contender in 2020.