The last time the Minnesota Lynx didn’t make the postseason was 2010. As in, the top movie was “Toy Story 3,” we were all singing along with Bruno Mars on “Just the Way You Are” and Barack Obama was in his first term.
And Cheryl Reeve was a rookie WNBA coach with the Lynx.
Since then, they’ve won four WNBA titles and been a playoff regular. Two players, Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles, won MVPs. Three -- Moore, Napheesa Collier and Crystal Dangerfield -- won Rookie of the Year. Reeve was named Coach of the Year three times in the past decade, including last season. The Lynx make a good case for being not just one of the best WNBA franchises, but one of the best franchises in all of American sports.
And this season? They’re poised to win it all again.
Minnesota was knocked out of the playoffs in the semifinals last season. Fowles played in just seven games due to a calf injury. Dangerfield won the ROY and Collier was on the all-WNBA second team, but Minnesota needed just a bit more firepower to get back into the title conversation.
The Lynx signed three-time All-Star guard Kayla McBride, forward Natalie Achonwa and guard Aerial Powers, adding significant experience. They also drafted Rennia Davis in the first round, but a stress fracture in her left foot will keep her out indefinitely.
“We have a vision for the roster, and who we acquired through free agency and the draft,” Reeve said during training camp. “Now is the technical part. It’s getting on the court and figuring out exactly which pieces go where. That’s the fun of this as we get into practice.”
Reeve’s biggest challenges will be using all of her new players and making sure Fowles can stay healthy at the age of 35.
“Whatever gets to have me healthy to get to the end of the season, I’m willing to do,” Fowles said. “If that’s limited minutes from here on out, I’m willing to do that. But we also understand there’s going to be some days where I get out and when I’m feeling it or in a groove, I get to stay out. So it’s picking and choosing your battles.”
No other player on the team has the size of Fowles (6-foot-6) or can do what she can do, but using her smartly in May and June means the Lynx are more likely to play deep into September. And it’s that kind of planning and culture that attracted free agents such as McBride to the team.
“Automatically, as a competitor, you want to be a part of a winning team, and I think that Coach Reeve has done a great job over the last decade that she’s been there of creating that culture, creating this environment for this team and this city,” McBride said when she signed with the team. “It’s something that’s really appealing, and I know that it’s a place where I can take another step in my game.”
And perhaps help the Lynx raise their fifth title trophy in the Reeve era.