The Minnesota Lynx announced today that they have brought back 29-year-old guard, Rachel Banham. This was a much needed (and anticipated) move, considering the swing and miss on Courtney Vandersloot, and losing last year’s starting point guard, Moriah Jefferson, to the Phoenix Mercury. The current market is extremely thin on lead guards so bringing back a familiar face, who just had her most productive season in the W, was a no-brainer.
It was an up-and-down season for Minnesota last year, but “Ray Ban” still averaged career-highs in games played (36), minutes per game (17.5), points per game (7.9), and three-point makes per game (1.6) last season. Her perimeter scoring is unquestionable, finishing 9th in TS% (min. 12 GP) in the league last year. The Lynx will likely play a much different style of basketball compared to recent years where they could easily throw it down to the Sylvia Fowles to dominate in the paint. Minnesota finished third to last in three-point attempts last season so with Napheesa Collier and Damiris Dantas fully back in the fold, Banham may have the opportunity to spearhead a more perimeter-oriented attack this year. She has flashed her ability to effectively command an offense with her passing, but the eighth year guard will most definitely need to step up on the defensive end. Of those who played at least 10 games on the Lynx last year, Banham ranked dead last (11th) in defensive win shares. Things will not get easier now with a four-time Defensive Player of the Year (Fowles) to clean things up on the back end anymore.
Banham has spent most of her offseason so far with her alma mater, University of Minnesota, working with the women’s basketball team. There’s worse ways to spend your time than soaking in the greatness of fellow Minnesota legend, Lindsay Whalen.
Banham will likely see an expanded role this season, barring an unexpected trade for a PG. Newly signed Tiffany Mitchell and re-signed journeywoman Lindsay Allen (training camp deal) are the only other guards who may handle that position. According to HerHoopsStats, the Lynx should currently have 9 roster spots filled while Dantas and Allen will likely make it past their training camp deals.
In the reshuffling of decks in the WNBA, we should also note that the Lynx signed three players to training camp deals a two weeks ago. Between Maya Dodson, Stephanie Watts, and Kiana Williams, I would expect Williams may get the longest look. Though she is the youngest of that trio, the Lynx are still relatively thin at the point guard position. Williams was the starting point guard for the 2021 NCAA champion Stanford team before getting drafted by the Seattle Storm, spending a season under Sue Bird’s tutelage. She played just 30 total minutes between Seattle and the Connecticut Sun last year.