Editor’s note: Westbrook was signed to the active roster on a season-long contract on Friday morning, the day after this was posted. She was initially signed to a hardship contract, but has since signed a new contract.
What a chaotic first week of the WNBA season for the Minnesota Lynx.
Just over a week ago, head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve made waves with her surprising decision to waive a number of players, most notably 2017 All-Star Layshia Clarendon and 2019 Rookie of the Year Crystal Dangerfield. Reeve decided to put her trust in seventh-year guard Rachel Banham, brought back Odyssey Sims, and signed journeywoman Yvonne Turner to be the primary ball-handlers.
The results have not been great, as Minnesota is the lone team sitting at 0-3 at the bottom of the league standings.
To add even more salt to their wounds, the injury report has continued to grow.
With already an extremely limited roster (Reeve really only played six players in their most recent loss against the Fever), it was announced that Natalie Achonwa would be out indefinitely due to a hamstring injury while Sims is currently unavailable due to a personal issue. When asked about the latter, Coach Reeve was adamant that she would not share more details about it.
The total count of active players was sitting at just nine, including three hardship contract players (Turner, Nikolina Milić, and Rennia Davis).
Enter: Evina Westbrook.
Per the Minnesota Lynx official press release:
Westbrook, a 6-0 guard, was drafted 21st overall by the Seattle Storm in the 2022 WNBA Draft and registered 18 points, five rebounds and three assists in the two preseason games she appeared. The Salem, Ore. native spent her final two college seasons at the University of Connecticut after a two-year stint with Tennessee. She closed out her career leading the Huskies to a pair of Final Four appearances, including the title game in 2022. She averaged 9.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.4 steals during the 2021-22 season.
We will see how much playing time Coach Reeve gives the rookie. I was a fan of what little I saw from Westbrook in college, but I am not holding my breath that she gets a ton of play. Though Reeve has given Turner 28 minutes per game this season, the other two hardship players combined to play just seven minutes in the last game. Then again, you take a look at who is available and wonder if Reeve has any other choice.