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Thunder-Storm: Seattle’s core equipped to unleash its wrath

After an early first-round exit in 2016, the Seattle Storm look to show the WNBA that they are here for the long haul.

Chris Poss - Swish Appeal

The 2016 season, for all intents and purposes, could’ve been seen as a rebuilding season for the Seattle Storm.

However, when your lineup consists of Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Sue Bird, your team should be pretty successful. And after finishing the 2015 season with the second-worst record in the league, the Storm recovered to put up a 16-win season and a playoff berth in 2016. Despite losing in the opening round to Atlanta, Seattle showed glimpses of the future that awaits.

THE CLOUDS ARE OPENING...

Seattle, after missing the playoffs the previous two seasons, quickly built a lineup that put fear into its opponents. With the aforementioned four above, Seattle had a core that could instantly compete with the best in the league.

Although the early record didn’t show it (losing their opening game to the champion Los Angeles Sparks by 30), the Storm slowly began to put the pieces together, cobbling a late playoff run. As a result, Stewart was named the WNBA Rookie of the Year, while Bird and Loyd were named to the All-WNBA First and Second teams, respectively.

THE WAVES BEGIN TO SWELL

Not willing to settle on their laurels, the Storm had a busy offseason. In one of the biggest trades of 2017, the Storm acquired veteran center Carolyn Swords from the Washington Mystics, along with the 15th pick in the 2017 draft. With that pick, Seattle chose point guard Alexis Peterson from the University of Syracuse, a pick that looks to secure their future as Bird enters her 15th season.

Seattle also added center Lanay Montgomery in the draft. The center from West Virginia not only adds size (at 6’5”, she’s the second-tallest player on the team behind Swords), but gives the Storm considerable bench depth along with Ramu Tokashiki.

THE EYES OF THE STORM

Ultimately, the Storm will be looking at the core of Bird, Loyd and Stewart to be the anchors of this team. While Bird hasn’t been able to participate in training camp or the preseason thus far (she underwent a left knee scope in early April), she is expected to be back at full strength soon.

Even with Bird out, the Storm will have to find a way to build consistency fast, as the early part of their schedule has them facing four playoff teams from 2016 (the defending champion Sparks, Indiana Fever, Minnesota Lynx and New York Liberty).

With the Western Conference vastly improved, the Storm can’t afford to lose too many games to start the season. And as the host of this year’s All-Star Game, the Storm would be better suited to go into the break as one of the more elite teams.