Lindsay Whalen collided with Dream guard Layshia Clarendon halfway through the third quarter of Thursday’s 69-54 win over Atlanta. A jump ball was called on the play and Whalen continued to hop to the end of the court wincing and shaking her hand in pain. She was clearly bothered by the injury, a concerning sight for Lynx fans who understand that Whalen is one of the toughest players in the entire league. She was then taken out of the game, and promptly left the court with trainer Chuck Barta to be evaluated in the locker room. Whalen did not return to the game.
Friday afternoon the Lynx announced that Whalen underwent surgery to repair a fracture of her fifth metacarpal in her left hand. She’s listed as out “indefinitely.” Doctor of Physical Therapy Grad Student and Minnesota basketball fan Lucas Seehafer estimated a recovery time of 3-7 weeks.
5th metacarpal fracture. Tough luck for Lindsay & the Lynx. Typical recovery is in the 3-7 week range depending on where the break occurred. https://t.co/Nhm2RrJwnv— Lucas (@loseehafer) August 4, 2017
Of all the Lynx starters, Whalen is the player Minnesota is most capable of replacing for a few weeks. She’s averaging a career low in minutes (23.6) and is backed up by the team’s best reserve, 10-year veteran Renee Montgomery. This fantastically deep Minnesota team should be able to step up nicely in Whalen’s absence.
“I’m just gonna bring high energy at all times” Montgomery said at Saturday’s practice “Ball pressure and pace. Same things I brought off the bench I’m just gonna bring into the starting lineup. I’m not gonna change what I do, I’m just gonna be doing it in a different position.”
With Montgomery the Lynx have a lightning quick guard who can be a pest on defense while knocking down deep shots on offense. They’ll miss Whalen’s ability to be a floor general, rebound the ball, and according to Cheryl Reeve, lead the team.
“The thing that you miss as a team about Whay is her leadership. She’s an exceptional leader. She’s been the head of the snake. We feed off her energy.” Reeve said.
Alexis Jones, the Lynx 2017 first round draft pick from Baylor now seems primed to have her role expanded as she moves into the rotation as the backup to Montgomery. Jones, a three point specialist has gotten spot minutes here and there this season, but will likely see her 4.1 minute per game average grow dramatically.
Even if the team struggles without their starting point guard, at 20-2 Minnesota has already locked up a playoff berth and has a three game lead over second place Los Angeles. Maintaining their perch atop the WNBA standings will be the main objective over the final 12 games of the season. The Lynx can and will weather this storm. Coach Reeve is looking at the bright side of things, the team will have Whalen back in the lineup for their playoff run.
“Your heart kinda breaks for her. At the same time, (injuries are) a part of it. It could have been a worse injury. We’re gonna have Lindsay back. That’s the great thing. She’s gonna play again this season for us. That’s the good news in this.”