2018 Season Preview: Five Reasons To Watch The Minnesota Lynx Work

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2017 Record: 27-7, No. 1 seed in Playoffs, Won 2017 WNBA Championship

Key Offseason Moves

  • Acquired Danielle Robinson (and 2019 2nd round pick) via trade with Phoenix (2018 1st round pick)
  • Re-signed Rebekkah Brunson and Cecilia Zandalasini
  • Signed free agents Tanisha Wright and Lynetta Kizer
  • Signed head coach Cheryl Reeve to multi-year extension
  • Lost Natasha Howard via trade with Seattle (2018 2nd round pick, 2019 1st round pick swap)
  • Lost Jia Perkins and Plenette Pierson to retirement; lost Renee Montgomery in free agency (Atlanta)

2017 Season Highlights

Minnesota Lynx Top 5 Plays from 2017 Season

1. Going For Back-To-Back Titles… and More History

The Minnesota Lynx have won four WNBA titles over the past seven seasons. While their fourth title tied them with the legendary Houston Comets for the most in WNBA history, the Lynx have yet to successfully defend their title in back-to-back years. Beginning in 2011, the Lynx have won the championship in every odd year – 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017. Minnesota fell to Indiana in the 2012 Finals and to the L.A. Sparks in 2016; they were eliminated in the Western Conference Finals by eventual champion Phoenix in 2014.

Is this the year that the Lynx can finally win back-to-back championships? They would be the first team to successfully defend the WNBA title since the Lisa Leslie-led L.A. Sparks back in 2001 and 2002. Last year’s Sparks had a chance to do it against Minnesota, but the Lynx won the final two games of the series to earn the title and avenge their Game 5 loss from the previous season. The Lynx have proven that they can win the “revenge” title; is 2018 the year they prove they can win the “defense” title — and stand alone as the most decorated franchise in league history?

2. The Veteran Core Returns

The foundation of the Lynx dynasty is a starting five that will go down as one of the best in the history of the WNBA. That starting group — Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore, Rebekkah Brunson and reigning league MVP Sylvia Fowles — returns for another championship run in 2018. Moore is the only member of the starting five with fewer than 10 years of WNBA experience, with Whalen and Brunson (the WNBA’s only five-time champion re-signed this offseason) set to enter season No. 15. At this point, each season could be the last for this core group to be together on the court. But as long as they are together and healthy, the Lynx will be title contenders.

An interesting thing to watch throughout the year is how head coach Cheryl Reeve manages the minutes of her star players. With this season being a bit condensed in order to wrap up prior to the 2018 FIBA World Cup, Reeve will have to balance how much she wants to play this group together with making sure players get enough rest to be ready for the playoffs.

3. Whalen Pulling Double Duty

The discussion of how long this group can stay together got really interesting on draft night as it was announced that Lindsay Whalen had been hired by her alma mater — the University of Minnesota — as its new head women’s basketball coach. Whalen will still be able play with the Lynx this season, but it’s fair to wonder whether this could be her final season before becoming a full-time college coach.

The Lynx clinched championship No. 4 on the same court that Whalen will coach the Minnesota Gophers this fall — Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus. After spending last year playing regular season games at Xcel Energy Center and playoff games at Williams Arena, the Lynx will be back in their normal home at Target Center after the facility completed its renovations.

4. Robinson Adds A Spark

The Lynx have built a win-now roster filled with veterans as opposed to young players with less experience in the WNBA and especially in the playoffs. However, the Lynx made a key move for the present and the future this offseason by acquiring point guard Danielle Robinson in a trade with Phoenix for Minnesota’s first round pick in the past draft (the Mercury selected Marie Gulich with the pick). With backup point guard Renee Montgomery signing with Atlanta in free agency, the Lynx had to find a quality replacement to play behind Whalen. In Robinson, they get a player that can score when needed but is most noted for her ability as a playmaker and an intense perimeter defender.

5. New Role Players

In addition to losing Montgomery in free agency, the Lynx also lost Natasha Howard (traded to Seattle for draft picks) as well as Jia Perkins and Plenette Pierson, who both retired following last year’s championship. To fill the holes left by those players, the Lynx brought in Robinson along with veterans Tanisha Wright (who sat out last season) and Lynetta Kizer (who played sparingly with Connecticut last year after four seasons in Indiana). Last season, only Moore (31.3) and Fowles (30.8) played more than 28 minutes per game, so expect to see the newcomers on the court for the Lynx this season. It will be interesting to watch how quickly they assimilate into the system and culture that Reeve and the Lynx have thrived under for years.