The Seattle Storm did it again.
Last week the Storm swept the Las Vegas Aces in three games to claim the 2020 WNBA championship. It was the fourth title in the franchise’s 21-year history and second in the past three seasons, cementing this iteration of the franchise as one of the greatest in league history.
But is this team the greatest in franchise history?
This year’s team was special. The Storm finished the coronavirus-bubble season 18-4, tying for the league’s best record, then won all six of its playoff contests to claim the title. How does that stack up to previous Seattle championship squads?
The 2018 team doesn’t really bear comparing because, frankly, it’s the exact same team. The starting five is the same, with those players filling the same roles. Even the first player off the bench is the same. This year’s team performed slightly better, both during the regular season and the playoffs.
The 2004 team, while winning the franchise’s first championship, wasn’t playing at the same dominating level. At 20-14 it finished second in the Western Conference, then went to a decisive third game in series against both the Sacramento Monarchs and Connecticut Sun. Seattle also managed to avoid the big favorite — the Los Angeles Sparks, who were upset in the first round by Sacramento — in the postseason.
But the 2010 team …
The 2010 Storm were every bit as dominant as this year’s team. At 28-6 they finished with by far the best record in the league. They also went undefeated in the postseason, including a sweep of the Atlanta Dream in the finals.
So the comparison for best team in franchise history really comes down to this team versus 2010. Let’s take a closer look at the squads:
The 2010 team, coached by Brian Angler, finished with an .824 winning percentage, third in the league in points per game (81.8) and second in the league in opposition points per game (73.9). Do-everything 6-foot-6 forward Lauren Jackson was the league’s MVP, averaging 20.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per contest. Sue Bird (11.1 points, 5.8 assists), the one connection between the two teams, was Seattle’s All-Star point guard, while forward Swin Cash (13.8 points, 6.0 rebounds) gave the Storm a third All-Star performer. Forward Camille Little (10.1 points, 5.2 rebounds) and guard Tanisha Wright (9.2 points) rounded out a quality starting five, while forward Svetlana Abrosimova was a strong sixth player.
The 2020 team, coached by Gary Kloppenburg, finished with an .818 winning percentage, second in the league in points per game (87.5) and first in the league in opposition points per game (76.0). Do everything 6-foot-4 forward Breanna Stewart finished second in MVP voting, averaging 19.7 points and 8.3 rebounds. Bird (9.8 points, 5.2 assists), at 39, was still doing her thing, while guard Jewell Loyd (15.5 points) gave the team a third All-Star performer. Guard Alysha Clark (10.0 points) and forward Natasha Howard (9.5 points, 7.1 rebounds) rounded out a quality starting five, while guard Jordin Canada (7.9 points, 5.5 assists) was a strong sixth player.
Similar teams, similar domination.
So which Storm team, 2010 or 2020, do you think is the greatest in franchise history? Let us know by voting in this week’s Seattle Sidelines poll by visiting the online version of the story on The Herald’s website, or by following Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.
— Nick Patterson, Herald writer