The Minnesota Lynx kicks off a 22-game regular season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. against the Connecticut Sun on Sunday at noon. The Lynx are lead by head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve and her all-female coaching staff — former Lynx players Rebbekah Brunson, Plenette Pierson, and Katie Smith are her assistants.
Reeves is the gold standard of coaching and will look to lead her team to a 10th straight playoff appearance. Like last season, Minnesota will be without key players to start the season. Maya Moore is still on sabbatical as she is fighting for criminal justice reform. Seimone Augustus is now a member of the Los Angeles Sparks. Odyssey Sims, who led the Lynx both in points (14.5) and assists (5.4) last season, will probably miss the year — Sims gave birth to her first child in April and is out on maternity leave.
This is the first time in 15 years that the Lynx roster will not include Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson, Lindsay Whalen, or Maya Moore. 🤯🤯🤯 #wnbathoughts
— WNBA Thoughts (@WNBAthoughts) July 23, 2020
Mikiah Herbert Harrigan
KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH
Napheesa Collier: Great on both ends of the floor, the reigning WNBA Rookie of Year looks to continue her Midas touch. Collier averaged 13.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.9 steals ,and 0.9 blocked shots while starting all 34 regular-season games in 2019 while shooting 49 percent from the field, 36.1 percent from three-point range, and 79.2 percent from the free throw line. Collier was named to the All-WNBA second team and the All-Rookie Team for her efforts and earned an All-Star berth. The advanced stats back up the counting stats: Collier ranked second in the league and first among rookies in defensive win shares at 2.4 and boasted a defensive rating of 95.1.
Sylvia Fowles: At 34, Fowles is still a prolific player. However, her numbers were down from two seasons ago. The former league MVP averaged 13.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game while leading the league in field goal percentages at 58.8 percent. Fowles is one of the leaders on the team and is ready to impart her knowledge and experience to her younger teammates. The Lynx offense should still run through Fowles.
Despite not having Moore last season, Minnesota finished the season with a record of 18-16 and was eliminated in the first round of the WNBA Playoffs (Cheryl Reeves, it must be said, is the GOAT). Even though the roster might look drastically different, the Lynx are expected to make another playoffs push. The Lynx will need their bench players to perform well because Collier and Fowles can’t carry the load alone. As good as those two players are, they really need others to step up in order for the team to have a successful season.
Lexie Brown: She is poised to be the Lynx’s starting point guard. Brown is a solid shooter and averaged 7.6 points and 1.4 assists per game last year. Her assists numbers should improve dramatically since she will be a starter, plus Fowles will have to rely on Brown to get the ball in the post in order for her to feast. Brown is an excellent three-point shooter at nearly 40 percent and the Lynx will need that to continue in the upcoming season.
BIGGEST ON-COURT QUESTION
Will Collier repeat her outstanding play in her sophomore season? How will Reeves bring out the best in this roster to make a playoff push? Can Fowles return to dominance at 34? The Lynx added three-pointer shooters that lead to better floor spacing and may take the pressure off of Fowles. How well will it work? Only time will tell, and the team’s first game against a hungry Sun side should provide a good early test.