The Minnesota Lynx earlier this month ended the 2020 WNBA “Wubble” season in the league’s semifinals, falling to eventual champion Seattle. Here’s a look at the roster as we give each player either a K (keep) or a G (gone) for 2021:
- Kayla Alexander, age 29, 6-4 C. Didn’t play much – G
- Rachel Banham, age 27, 5-9 G. Became comfortable late as sixth woman – K
- Lexie Brown, age 26, 5-9 G. Dealt with concussions and inconsistencies throughout year– K
- Bridget Carleton, age 23, 6-1 F. Played herself into serviceable role – K
- Napheesa Collier, age 24, 6-1 F. 2 nd team All-WNBA, became team leader – K
- Crystal Dangerfield, age 22, 5-6 G. Surpassed all expectations, won 2020 ROY, team’s leading scorer – K
- Damiris Dantas, age 28, 6-3 F. Became reliable 2 nd scorer – K
- Sylvia Fowles, age 35, 6-6 C. First injury-marred season in her career, should rebound –K
- Mikiah Herbert Harrigan, age 22, 6-1 F. Overseas play should help her growth as pro – K
- Shenise Johnson, age 30, 5-11 G. Never met expectations, struggled to regain form – G
- Erica McCall, age 25, 6-2 F. Late acquisition, should get training camp invite – K
- Odyssey Sims, age 26, 5-8 G. Expect to return in top form after having baby this year – K
Cheryl Reeve wears two hats, general manager and head coach. The latter earned her this season’s coach-of-the-year honors as she guided one of the league’s youngest teams to a fourth seed. “I think Coach Reeve has done an absolutely amazing job,” said Lynx Analyst Lea B. Olsen.
But as GM, Reeve must not stay pat. “Who knows what 2021 will look like?” she told reporters, including the MSR, at season’s end. “We have some real key pieces, and we had a good look at [others]. There are so many unknowns.”
A 2021 Minnesota frontcourt of Fowles, Collier and Dantas is a formable one, and Dangerfield and Sims as starting guards can be nightmarish for opponents. Banham should be more comfortable next year and be consistent as sixth woman. Carleton played herself into a valuable reserve role, or spot starter when needed.
We like Brown, who Minnesota traded for in 2019, but her inconsistency during her two years for the Lynx has overshadowed her talent. Perhaps a third season will be the charm.
And it is too soon to pull the plug on Hebert Harrigan, the team’s 2020 top draft pick who must get stronger. Hopefully that will come during her overseas assignment this off season.
There will be a bounty of free agents this off season, but Minnesota’s success in this market over the years has been mixed at best: Alexander was the team’s only FA signing this year.
“We can’t control free agency, but we have money to spend,” declared Reeve.
Ten Lynx players are under contract for next season, including Jessica Shepard, who missed the past two seasons due to an ACL injury. If she returns and picks up where she left off before her unfortunate injury in her 2019 rookie season, Shepard gives Minnesota a solid rebounder.
And the Lynx has negotiating rights with Carleton, Cecilia Zandalasini and Temi Fagbenle—the latter two opted not to play this season. And All-Star Maya Moore is still under contract.
“I don’t know what’s next, but we certainly need more,” surmised the Minnesota GM-coach. “You never come back exactly the same. There will be some people who will not be here [next season].”