Can Breanna Stewart Lead Seattle Storm to Playoffs?

The No. 1 pick in the draft has sold a lot of jerseys. Now can she get her team into the mix for a title?

Breanna Stewart was the subject of a recent article at the WNBA’s homepage. The article, written by Dan Ferrara, notes that the Seattle Storm guard is “atop” the leaderboard when it comes to jersey sales in the WNBA. However, her team is hardly atop of the standings as they sit with a losing record as play gets set to resume on Friday.

The Storm are just 9-15 on the year for a .375 winning percentage. In the 12-team league they are ninth, however with eight teams making the post-season Seattle are not out of contention. In fact the Washington Mystics, the team directly ahead of Seattle, are 9-15 as well.

The Mystics appeared to be a team ready to crumble heading into the break. Winners of just two of their last ten, Washington perhaps needed the break to regroup more than most. How the various teams in the women’s association will respond to such a lengthy amount of time off isn’t clear. However, things were going so badly for Washington pre-break that you have to think a chance to reflect could work in their favor.

If Washington are able to turn things around then it could complicate matters for Seattle. However, there are a lot of teams on the playoff bubble besides the Storm and the Mystics. On that matter, what complicates things further for the Storm is a tough schedule immediately ahead.

On Friday, the Storm will host the 21-3 Los Angeles Sparks. Then on Sunday Seattle will be in Minnesota to face the currently 21-4 Minnesota Lynx. That the Storm face the two best teams in the association certainly doesn’t help their predicament. This is a team that really needs a split between its two upcoming games despite the most difficult competition. 9-17 might be really hard to come back from, especially if Seattle’s core competitors are able to tally wins.

Of course, Stewart herself is no stranger to winning. She won four national titles at UCONN and now she has an Olympic gold medal. So far in her first professional season, Stewart has scored 19.2 ppg and she has 8.1 rpg. Those are numbers that will put her on the longer list of MVP candidates, although probably not the shorter list.

I think the prognosis with the Storm is that it will take more than Stewart. Sue Bird, Jewel Lloyd, Alysha Clark, and the rest of Seattle all need to contribute to a push. The two upcoming games are huge and, while you never like to admit that a loss is okay, I think the Storm would be completely satisfied going 1-1 to stay in the mix.

Shane Lambert