The Seattle Storm looks to make the playoffs for a 10th straight season, while balancing needs to add more youth and remain competitive without Lauren Jackson. In addition, there is a chance that the Storm will no longer be the city’s sole professional basketball team by the time its season is over, with Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer entering into a binding agreement to purchase the Sacramento Kings NBA franchise in January.
It’s amazing that since 2002, the Storm has finished every regular season at least .500 or better until last year. But at the same time, while the team has tried to keep its championship window open for as long as possible, given that teams like the Lynx, the Mercury, and the Sparks all have major younger stars and younger cores that all may have a chance to win a title in the next several years, and also considering that the Tulsa Shock is steadily rebuilding with youth to become a perennial competitor as well, you have to ask that question as to whether the championship window has passed this team by.
The primary reason why this team is at its crossroads is because of the collective age of its primary players. First, six of the 2012’s team’s major rotation players (Bird, Jackson, Ann Wauters, Katie Smith, Tina Thompson, Svetlana Abrosimova) were over 30 years old for the entire season. Smith and Thompson are now in their later 30’s and are clearly past their prime.
Much of this was by design, and part of head coach Brian Agler’s team building strategy according to an ESPN article last year where he gives his rationale for building around veterans first.
Nate, who is more or less our Storm fan herewrote a very good piece last year regarding a statistical framework on team building, and how it relates to the Storm.
For free agency, the Storm has two players from the 2012 in unrestricted free agency: swingman Svetlana Abrosimova, and guard Katie Smith. Both of them are well over 30 years old and for Smith in particular is past her prime.