I’ll be honest. I wasn’t always a die-hard Lynx fan nor conductor of the Crystal Dangerfield Hype Train™. I was just someone in California who (unfortunately) was a fan of the Minnesota Timberwolves. As a result, I made a Twitter account just so I could follow Minnesota athletes and sports-focused reporters/beat writers.
@kevin_love Kev! Wantd 2 show supprt as the only Wolves fan in Sac. Tried hard 2 get ur autograph last year bt staff @ Arco didn't let me :[— Lernernerner DiCapricorn (@Y0Leo) June 28, 2009
(My very first Tweet. Very mature.)
Thus by association, I had accidentally (but fortunately) signed up for a subscription to all things Lynx. I wasn’t addicted to Twitter yet, but by the time I was (2015-ish) the Lynx dynasty was in full force (quick shoutout to Neil Olstad aka @Lynx_Dynasty for his amazing coverage throughout the years). I would constantly see mentions of the wonders that some players named Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus, or Maya Moore would accomplish. Who were they? But in all seriousness, I would just sparingly flip on some Lynx postseason games here and there, enough to know the regulars.
I see you @JimPeteHoops , so proud of the team and the job you did with them! #OurHouse pic.twitter.com/LLMlQqaTA3— Lernernerner DiCapricorn (@Y0Leo) October 15, 2015
My reason for not fully tuning-in certainly wasn’t due to a concern of the level of basketball talent, as it was evident that the Lynx were exponentially better at this game than the Timberwolves, but for two specific reasons: 1) Not wanting to jump onto the bandwagon of a powerhouse team (see: Timberwolves), 2) Unfamiliarity with the players in the WNBA. I was able to get over the former relatively easily once Ricky Rubio was traded since I no longer felt the desire to exclusively root for a franchise that would deal away a future MVP (Rubio would indeed win an MVP just 45-days after he was traded).
Ricky Rubio @rickyrubio9 got MVP of @FIBAWC averaging 16.4pts 6ast while leading Spain to the championship pic.twitter.com/XV5Qb9LeVh— Swish Cultures (@swishcultures_) September 17, 2019
However, the latter reason would require a bit of time and research. Between relocating my life to Southern California and a pair of new jobs, I couldn’t quite dedicate the time necessary to properly immerse myself in what they called “The W.” Well, fast-forward a few more hopeless Wolves seasons and one pandemic later (I’m hoping by the time this gets published, COVID-19 has been eviscerated), I’m finally up to the task! These impressive athletes have ceased to amaze me with their talents and all I can do is try to document what I’ve seen.
And I would like to share with you my progress in what I call:
The Lynx Signature Series
- Who this is for: Long-time Lynx fans. Aspiring Lynx fans. Anyone who’s a fan of the game of balls and baskets.
- What this is: A highlight reel of Top 10’s (#SCTop10) from this year’s Minnesota Lynx squad. I’ve determined these rankings as the committee of one.
- Why did you do this: As mentioned above, one barrier for me in getting more invested in watching the W was unfamiliarity of players. Hopefully you will use this to help you build your familiarity with the team as I detail some of our best moments!
DISCLAIMER(s): I am not trying to directly compare these athletes because they are unique in their own regard, but am just drawing similarities in singular moves that I’ve witnessed this season. Also, all statistics referenced below reflect the first 20 games the Lynx have played in their 22-game season.
Honorable mention: Big Syl Post-up
Pek Syl lands as our lone “honorable mention” here since she’s only played seven games this season. It was widely expected that Minnesota’s offense would run a 4-out, 1-in system where Sylvia Fowles could take everyone’s lunch money in the post. And for the games she was active, she was nearly unstoppable shooting over 60% from the field. Much like former Minnesota Timberwolves legend Nikola Pekovic, Syl most commonly “goes hard in the paint” and muscles her way for an easy bucket. However, let’s not forget just how graceful she can be as well.
#10: Lexie Show & Go
Most will think of Lexie Brown as a sniper from perimeter. It’s been clear this season that her opponents think that, too. Although she still has the ability to knockdown the long-ball, Lexie most frequently uses the scouting report on this to her own advantage, teasing opponents who are closing out with a tantalizing pump fake before attacking the hoop. She can sink a one dribble pull-up, drive to the hoop and collapse the defense, or just flip in a runner.
#9: Collier “Phee-bound”
If you remember the Grit & Grind Grizzlies, then surely you remember Zach Randolph’s patented “Z-Bound” (Yes, it has it’s own home in UrbanDictionary.com). Although Napheesa Collier doesn’t “boast” Z-Bo’s girth, she has still mastered the art of the offensive putback by skillfully maneuvering by hapless ball-watchers with impressive technique. She’s currently top 3 in 2nd chance points which is easy to tell, as she is constantly cleaning up any leftover scraps.
#8: Banham 3-ball
In all reality, this can really could be called the “BBB” 3-ball. No, not soon-to-be Timberwolves draft bust LaMelo Ball’s dad’s company. I’m talking about Banham, Bridget, and Brown. This trio leads a reformed Lynx offense as the support gunners they never had. Rachel Banham drains a variety of triples including deep ones. Bridget Carleton is a reliable spot-up shooter who is sinking three-pointers at over 50%, and Lexie Brown, Minnesota’s resident pickpocket, will inevitably see her shooting percentage rise soon as she is a proven threat (or see #10 on this list).
#7: Crystal “Danger Floater”
WARNING: This will not be the only time you will see the soon-to-be Rookie of the Year, Crystal Dangerfield, on this list. CD is lightning fast with the ball in her hands and more importantly knows how to use it. She often slaloms around her taller teammate’s screens and puts pressure on the opponent’s rotations by getting back to the center of the court (Someone say ICE?).
Once she’s there, she has a bevy weapons she can whip out. Sometimes Crystal will just toss up a giant-killer. Sometimes she’ll crisscross the help defender off-balance before raining a teardrop in. Or sometimes she’ll put the opponent in the TPS (Tony Parker Spin) before unleashing the “Danger Floater.”
#6: The “Phee Shake”
No, these “Phee” puns will not stop. And no, Napheesa Collier will not stop getting buckets. This wily veteran up-and-under move is unleashed night after night as opposing defenders continue to be taken to school.
As Professor Collier teaches in the paint with this “vet” move, it’s easy to forget that she is actually just a second-year player. She is so strong with both hands and I’d be willing to guess that she’s paid Hakeem a visit or two during the offseason to master her footwork. Then again, she does have a first-ballot Hall of Fame coaching staff that has groomed her these past two years. Either way, the “Dream Shake” is no more - All hail the “Phee Shake.”
#5: Dangerfield’s Devastating Hesi
Told you she’d show up again. The league has taken notice that when Crystal Dangerfield is on the floor, they are now in a field of danger. Defenders find their eyes glued to her because in the blink of an eye, she’s gone.
How does she accomplish this, you ask? Athleticism. Skill. Timing. Feel for the game. As mentioned earlier, CD loves putting pressure on the defense as soon as she crosses the half court line. Those who are stuck with the unfortunate task of guarding her know that her East-West movement is top tier, so just when it looks like she’s about to crossover, Dangerfield freezes them into crystals as she uses her hesi-dribble and ever-so-slight shoulder fake to put them on their heels. It’s all downhill from there, as she glides to the rim with no defender in sight.
#4: DD & Pheesa Fader
One of the first signature moves I noticed when watching a Lynx game this season was Damiris Dantas’s left block fadeaway. She unleashed this move on Brionna Jones of the Connecticut Sun and for a second, I thought I was watching Spurs all-star LaMarcus Aldridge out there. Throughout the season, defenders have been roasted on the left block by both Minnesota forwards Dantas and Napheesa Collier. It’s really a thing of beauty. What’s especially effective about this move is that both DD and Napheesa are willing to operate in the post so opponents can’t just lean heavy on them, otherwise a spin move and “Phee Shake” might be around the corner.
#3: Dangerfield Pull-up Jimbo
If you were surprised to see Crystal Dangerfield pop up on this countdown yet again, then you probably can relate to how her opponents feel.
First, the help defender has to quickly rotate to try and negate the floater in the lane. Then if that defender is playing too tight, they’ll learn to give some cushion to prepare for her dribble hesitation move. And now they have to consider the fact that CD can just pull-up and knock down a mid-ranger in their face? There you have what keeps opposing coaches up all night preparing to deal with Dangerfield.
Defenders essentially have to make a 50-50 bet on whether Crystal will blow right by them to the rim, or get roasted for a silky smooth J. It’s almost unfair that someone with such elite speed can also do so much damage away from the rim. The cherry on top of this delicious sundae? The fact that CD can knock these down after a combination of ankle-breaking moves. You name it, she’s done it. Stopping on a dime after going 100 mph ala Russell Westbrook? Cash. Left-right crossover? All day. Right-left crossover? Favorite move. Double crossover into a behind-the-back dribble? Light work.
#2: Damiris the Brazilian Bomber
The Timberwolves and Lynx are two very different franchises, but one thing they do have in common? They both have the best shooting big in the league.
While Karl-Anthony Towns is pretty indisputable in the L, it’s starting to get hard to argue against Damiris Dantas in the W. Between all forwards and centers who shoot a minimum of 4.0 3PA (7 total), she is 3rd in makes (1.7, behind a pair of players at 1.8) and 1st in percentage by a mile (43%, the next closest is at 36.8%). I would bet my next month’s rent that if you put Dantas and Towns into a 3-point contest with any six other people, one of those two are coming out on top.
The Lynx Brazilian Bomber never hesitates to release a hoop-seeking missile coming off screens or spotting up from anywhere beyond the arc. Her performance has been so spectacular that Minnesota locked her up on a 2-year extension before the regular season has even ended. When the most successful franchise in WNBA history is knocking on the door of a player like this, you know you got something special.
#1: Danger From Deep
I promise you, this is not a Crystal Dangerfield hype piece (there’s already enough of those circling the web). The top spot on this list belongs to none other than our 5’5” offensive engine. Although CD comes into this piece just 1 three-pointer made on the season behind her taller Brazilian counterpart, the fashion in which she accomplishes this needs to be noted (Dantas is a more traditional stationary sniper).
That much is evident when you consider her conversion percentage; however, what separates Dangerfield is that her made three-pointers come in all different fashions. You’ll see this happen every game when defenders go under ball screens, which you can understand considering numbers 7, 5, and 3 on this very list. Yes, her off the dribble pull-up game extends much further than just 14-16 feet out, folks.
To compound this problem for opponents is that she often launches these shots from Chef Curry, Logo Lillard, and Ice Trae range. She’s been doing this since her UConn days and it has transferred smoothly into her rookie season in the WNBA. You just gotta wonder: If Crystal is capable of all this in less than 1 season into her professional career, what’s next for her?
On the next Lynx Signature Series: Top 10 Dimes of the Season