The best professional basketball team in the state of Minnesota gets its season underway tonight when the Minnesota Lynx tip off against the Mystics in Washington.
Last year, the Lynx rolled through all comers with very little drama on their way to the title. They did it with overwhelming talent that featured four WNBA All-stars in the starting lineup: Lindsay Whelan, Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson, and the incomparable Maya Moore. Heck, just for fun:
Things might not be as easy this year as the Lynx have been hit with injuries before the season even starts. 6th man Monica Wright is out following surgery, as are starting power forward Rebekkah Brunson and primary back up big Devereax Peters.
That means we will likely be seeing more small lineups with Maya Moore at the four spot. It also means relying on rookie Damiris Dantas, who is likely to start in Brunson's place. Dantas is not a straight out of college rookie, however, as the Brazilian was the Lynx's first round pick back in 2012. She has played extensively for Brazil's national teams, as well as professionally in Europe. She will need to hit the ground running for a Lynx squad that is suddenly thin up front.
Two other rookies made the Lynx roster to start the season: 3rd round draft pick Asia Taylor, who also might have to play early up front, and sharp shooter Tricia Liston, their first round pick out of Duke.
It's good that the Lynx have an infusion of youth, because they will have to start transforming the roster some in the coming years. While they rightly kept the core group together to make another run at a title, age will start to be a factor sometime soon. Four of last year's starters (everyone but Moore) are over 30 years of age. Brunson is hurt.
It will be up to coach Cheryl Reeve to work in the young players, get them developed, while at the same time chasing another title. It's a balancing act, but Reeve and the Lynx staff is among the best in the WNBA and are more than capable.
I'm always a pessimistic bastard, and the injuries make me nervous, but this should be a terrific year yet again for the Lynx. You need luck and good timing to win championships, so we'll have to wait and see, but they certainly have the talent to repeat.
I expect competition in the Western Conference, especially from the Phoenix Mercury, with Diana Taurasi and an improving 2nd year Brittney Griner, and the L.A. Sparks, with reigning MVP Candace Parker and other talent like Alana Beard and Nneka Okwumike.
The Lynx play excellent basketball. I really enjoyed watching their games last season, and am looking forward to this season. 9 of their tilts will be shown on one of the FSN channels, and another 6 are slated for an ESPN channel.
Most games can be seen online via Live Access, which can be purchased for $15 for the entire season. I really encourage you to pay attention to them this summer, as the Lynx offer our favorite sport played at a very high level.
Tonight's game is at 6:00 pm Central, and can be seen on Live Access.