A completely revamped Minnesota Lynx will take the floor tonight in their regular season opener against the Chicago Sky at Target Center. Only one starter from the start of last season will appear for the Lynx: Sylvia Fowles. Maya Moore is on sabbatical, Lindsay Whalen retired, Rebekkah Brunson has not recovered from concussion symptoms and might not play again, and Seimone Augustus will miss the game with a knee injury.
General Manager Cheryl Reeve did a ton of work remaking the roster this summer, bringing in multiple players to compete for roles. She was clearly looking for younger players who had at least a bit of experience, such as shooter Lexie Brown, bigs Damiris Dantas, Stephanie Talbot and Alaina Coates, and even guard Odyssey Sims. In addition, there are two intriguing rookies on the roster: forwards Napheesa Collins and Jessica Shepard, their first and second round picks in last month’s draft.
Last season saw the end of the Lynx remarkable championship run, as after four titles in seven years, they struggled as age took its toll on their celebrated core, and were ousted in the first round of the playoffs. Once Maya Moore decided to sit out at least a year, there might have been an argument that it was time for a complete rebuild. But that’s not how the Lynx roll, and instead they added a bunch of quality players on the fly, and have put together what looks like a competitive roster.
We’ll begin to see how it fits together tonight. Unlike past seasons when they top-end talent carried them, this team will rely more on depth. Their defense, led by Fowles, along with Sims and point guard Danielle Robinson in the back court, has every chance to be excellent. The big question is how they are going to score. Fowles is a huge presence down low, but teams will swarm her with multiple defenders, especially in the absence of former league MVP Moore. Others are going to have to make shots and create offense, and that might be their stumbling block.
The Sky struggled to a 13-21 record last season, and made some changes as a result. They added big Jantal Lavender, who is a former 6th woman of the year award winner with the Los Angeles Sparks, and drafted Connecticut sharp-shooter Katie Lou Samuelson via the draft. Their problem has been defense, and it’s not clear how they are going to get better at that end of the floor.
The last eight years have been a great time to be a Lynx fan. While they probably won’t win a championship this season, or perhaps not again for a long time, I’m excited about seeing a very new team take the floor, watching it come together, and seeing how coach Reeve handles a much different set of circumstances.
I really urge you to give the WNBA a try. I really enjoy it, and the WNBA league pass (free trial this week) is all of $17 for the whole season. It’s the best deal in streaming sports.
Neil Olstad will be handling our Lynx coverage again this season, so as always be on the lookout for his work. He’s already given us a league preview and a Lynx preview in the last couple of days, in addition to his incredibly well produced Lynx Dynasty podcast. You can follow him @Lynx_Dynasty on Twitter for a ton of Lynx goodness.
Meanwhile, enjoy the game.