Nearing the halfway point, Storm’s young core has them in the playoff race

Seattle’s only professional basketball team is hovering around .500 and is (currently) in the last playoff spot as we near the halfway point of the WNBA season. The Storm’s young core has continued to be competitive and are looking for their second straight playoff berth.

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The Seattle Storm (7-8) are in the middle of the playoff race as we near the midway point of the WNBA season. Their success this season has primarily been based off of when Seattle is hitting their shots from beyond the arc.

Offensively speaking, Seattle has absolutely dominated teams from beyond the three point line. The Storm are currently hitting 36.1% of their shots from beyond the arc, while averaging 19.9 three point attempts per game; which means that they’re scoring 26.1% of their points from beyond the arc. When the Storm are firing on all cylinders, and hitting their shots, it can be nearly impossible for their opponents to catch-up — Seattle beat Dallas 89-69 on July 1st, largely because of the team’s three-point shooting. But if the team is cold from beyond the arc, the offense tends to stall out and the game can quickly get out of hand — the Mystics crushed the Storm by 30 points on a night they were cold from beyond the arc.

Teams that rely on the three pointer usually pass the ball a lot, and that can lead to a lot of turnovers. For the Storm, they have an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.26 and are currently turning the ball over on 19.6% of their possessions. While the assist-to-turnover ratio  isn’t terribly high (6th in the league), they have the third highest turnover rate in the league; now a large part of that turnover rate is the team’s struggles pulling in offensive rebounds, they’re only pulling in 22.1% of offensive boards generated.

The lack of offensive boards, and the feast or famine style of offense, are typical of young teams that are just trying to build their core for the long run. And that’s what’s going on in Seattle, as the Storm only have two veterans with 10 or more years of experience in the league…everyone else on their roster has five or less.

One member of that young core that has been huge for the Storm this season is second year player Breanna Stewart (the first overall pick in the 2015 draft). Stewart is leading the team in points per game (18.4) and minutes per game (31.3).  The second year player has been surprisingly efficient at pulling in defensive boards (24.1%, second best on the team), which helps get the ball back into the hands of the offense…and that’s a good thing on nights where the team is shooting hot, but it’s not such a good thing when they’re cold from beyond the arc.

Despite the youth movement, the offense still runs through legendary point guard Sue Bird. Bird is in her 15th year in the league, and she’s overseeing the transition from the core that won two WNBA championships to the new crew that is looking to make their second straight playoffs.

Despite the fact that she’s nearing the end of her career, the veteran has continued to be a major part of the Storm’s offensive production. She’s currently averaging 7.3 assist per game and is still averaging 30 minutes a game. While she’s kind of struggling with turnovers this season (her assist to turnover ratio is a 3.5, the highest in her career) she’s still going to be key part of the offense for the next few years.

The Storm’s rebuild is ahead of schedule as they’re pushing for their second straight playoff appearance, and they’re potentially building something very special at the Key Arena.

(Photo Credit: Neil Enns/Storm Photos)

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