Seattle Storm season player review: Natasha Howard

Natasha Howard’s 2020 numbers look like another exceptional season

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Natasha Howard #6 of the Seattle Storm grabs the rebound against the Washington Mystics on September 2, 2020, at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Natasha Howard’s 2020 numbers look like another exceptional season. Howard averaged 9.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game on 53 percent shooting while making plays on the defensive end. Sure, Howard’s scoring dropped from 2019 but that was expected with Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird returning.

That narrative doesn’t tell the full story either.

Howard’s season was one of resilience. Through the first 10 games of the season, she shot a dismal 36.4 percent from the field. Her shot selection was not out of the ordinary, she just could not get anything to drop.

Fortunately, Howard found her rhythm in the second half of the season. She closed the season averaging 13.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game while shooting 61.5 percent from the field. This efficiency carried through the playoffs and helped the Storm secure their fourth title.

What was the difference? According to Howard, it just took a while to get back to full speed.

“I felt different. I’m back in my great shape I was last season. Just getting back in my rhythm again,” Howard said after Seattle’s August victory over Connecticut. “Just doing what I needed to do on the defensive end and getting my offense going. I’m just out there doing the little dirty plays again.”

Stewart never doubted Howard would find her rhythm in a season unlike any other.

“We knew Natasha was going to get it together. It was a slow process for all of us, trying to get our legs back underneath us, get in a basketball mindset. But she stuck with it. That’s a testament to who she is as a person and a player. She was all over the place and that’s exactly what we need, her to be aggressive, her to get rebounds, her to come up big defensively and fly around with all of us together. She brings that extra energy for our team that really helps us go.”

When Howard is at her best, it allows the Storm to cover more ground defensively, too. Howard is a former All-Star, all-defensive team member, and 2019’s Defensive Player of the Year. While Howard missed out on these awards this season, the disjointed season impacting her readiness is understandable. It probably took her longer than she would have liked but finished the season about as strongly as you can.

Howard remained an integral part of the Storm core and Seattle must figure out how to re-sign her. At age 29, Howard’s next deal will likely carry her through the rest of her prime. Her play and value to Seattle cannot be understated and she has earned a raise and a long-term deal.

Howard and the Storm have been a great fit, but whether they can come to an agreement is a key plotline to follow this offseason.