5 Reasons to Watch in 2015: Minnesota Lynx

The Minnesota Lynx missed out on the WNBA Finals for the first time in three seasons last year, falling to the Phoenix Mercury in three games in the Western Conference Finals. Much of that roster returns in 2015 as the Lynx look to reclaim their spot atop the Western Conference.

Head coach Cheryl Reeve has only endured one losing season in Minnesota since taking over in 2010. Since then, the Lynx have won two WNBA titles (2011, 2013). This year, they’re in good position to do it again.

Reigning MVP Maya Moore returns and is looking to take another step in her development as one of the league’s best young stars.

Here’s what to watch for in Minnesota this year:

Can Maya defend her MVP crown?

Maya Moore now has two MVPs to her name – the 2013 WNBA Finals MVP and the 2014 WNBA MVP. She’s been an All-Star three times and is a two-time WNBA champion. So, what else is there for her to accomplish?

Defending her MVP crown would be a start. Moore led the league in scoring in 2014 (23.9 PPG) and helped pace the league’s second-best offense (106.7 points per 100 possessions). Her scoring has increased in each of her four years in the league, so it will be interesting to see if she can top her 2014 performance.

Journey back to the top

Last season was the first time Reeve’s squad hadn’t brought home the Western Conference championship since 2010. Now, though, the window of opportunity is wide open for Minnesota to reclaim the throne.

Continuity on Reeve’s depth chart should go a long way in helping Minnesota on its quest for glory in 2015. A core of Moore, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen returns after that Olympic trio accounted for 60.7% of  Minnesota’s points scored in 2014.

Center Janel McCarville, 34, will miss the entire season, but the addition of former All-Star Asjha Jones should help fill that void.

Frontcourt depth

The loss of McCarville would be more alarming were it not for the remaining depth Reeve has to choose from on the roster. The aforementioned Jones comes to Minnesota from the Connecticut Sun and is poised to play a role in the frontcourt.

The two-time All-Star has dealt with injuries and hasn’t played in the league since 2012, but she averaged 12.2 points and 7.1 rebounds in 20 games with the Sun that season.

Minnesota also added forward Reshanda Gray in the draft. Gray was one of 12 prospects invited to attend the draft. She fell into Minnesota’s lap on draft night and had a solid showing during the preseason.

The combination of Rebekkah Brunson, Damiris Dantas, Gray, Jones and Moore makes for a deep frontcourt at Reeve’s disposal.

Augustus and Whalen

Much of the focus on Minnesota rests on the shoulders of Moore, but Augustus and Whalen — both five-time All-Stars — are just as important to the success of the Lynx. Whalen is regarded as one of the league’s best point guards and has led the league in assists every season since 2011.

Augustus, who has spent all of her nine-year career with Minnesota, hasn’t averaged less than 16 points per game throughout her career. Her continued  production on the offensive end will be vital to Minnesota’s success in 2015.