Inside the Storm

5/16/2007 - Seattle Storm

Editor's note: Before the 2007 season tips off Saturday, ESPN's Nancy Lieberman and ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel and Graham Hays each tackle one question facing all 13 WNBA teams. Here, the experts take a closer look at the Seattle Storm.

What makes you want to watch this team?

If Lauren Jackson is even semi-healthy this summer, it will be cause for many hallelujahs. Her ability to take over games on both ends of the court really can't be overstated. She and the Storm know what it takes to win a WNBA title, having done it in 2004. -- ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel

What's the best-case scenario for the team? Worst-case?

Best of times: The bad luck the Storm suffered throughout last season is repaid with an equal dose of good luck this season, allowing the team to potentially bid a fond farewell to Seattle. Lauren Jackson, plagued last season by injuries that made her statistical production and consistency all the more remarkable, enjoys a healthy summer and proves she is still the best all-around talent in women's basketball. Sue Bird bounces back from a season that saw her post career-low averages in shooting accuracy, points and assists. Janell Burse and Betty Lennox remain productive, giving the Storm a Shawn Marion and Leandro Barbosa to go with their Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire. And Wendy Palmer bounces back from an injury-plagued 2006 season to provide much-needed depth inside.

Worst of times: Plagued by more injuries and questions about the future of the franchise, the Storm remain an enigma. Bird can't reclaim her shooting touch, especially from behind the arc, setting off a chain reaction on offense that puts too much pressure on Lennox, Jackson and rookie Katie Gearlds to extend defenses with perimeter shooting. Palmer, who missed time in the preseason with a quad injury after missing all but five games last season with a torn Achilles, doesn't return to top form, leaving the Storm dangerously thin inside and putting more pressure on Jackson to extend herself physically on the defensive end. Pushed by a deep Western Conference field, the Storm are again forced to battle for a playoff spot instead of pushing for home-court advantage. -- ESPN.com's Graham Hays

Did offseason changes make the team better, the same or worse?

The Storm didn't get better or worse with their offseason additions. Yes, Seattle scored in the draft by picking up Purdue's Katie Gearlds, who brings immediate size and versatility. But getting Lauren Jackson, Wendy Palmer and Janell Burse back healthy and at 100 percent is much more important to Seattle. -- ESPN's Nancy Lieberman