As the end of 2020 draws near, WNBA.com is wrapping up this historic season by reviewing each team’s season. Take a look back at notable contributors and season highlights with the 2020 Season In Review. Next up: Minnesota Lynx.
Cheryl Reeve is no stranger to experiencing success. Even during a season where her team suffered a few setbacks, the Minnesota Lynx exceeded a lot of expectations.
Minnesota, like many teams, had to deal with some injuries, most notably to 13-year-veteran Sylvia Fowles, who only saw action in eight games this season. When available, the two-time WNBA champ showed why she is still a force in the paint. For 13 straight games the Lynx were without her 14.6 PPG (3rd overall on the team) and team-high 9.7 RPG. On September 17, Fowles made a return in the Lynx second-round playoff match-up against Phoenix. The 6’6 center logged 6 points in 18 minutes before being sidelined for the duration of Playoffs.
Lexi Brown also missed some games, playing in only 17 games. Brown played her last game on September 6 before eventually departing the bubble.
It was Damiris Dantas’ 12.9 PPG that helped make up for the loss of Fowles down low. From a scoring standpoint, rising stars Napheesa Collier (16.1 PPG) and Rookie of the Year Crystal Dangerfield (16.2 PPG) anchored the Lynx to an impressive 14-8 record (4th in the league).
The 2019 Rookie of the Year continued to be an impact player for Minnesota in year two. For the first time, the UConn product appeared on both the All-WNBA Second Team and All-Defensive Second Team. Phee attempted 11.8 field goals per game, but her 52.3% field goal percentage proved that she gets the job done in an efficient manner. Collier’s 16.1 PPG ranked second on the team behind her fellow UConn teammate, Dangerfield.
Defensively, Collier ranked top 10 in the league in three categories, including third in steals (1.8 SPG), sixth in blocks (1.3 BPG), and tied for eighth in defensive rebounds (6.3 DREB).
In just her second year, @PHEEsespieces has become the @minnesotalynx go-to scorer!
Take a look back at Phee's top plays of this #WNBA season. pic.twitter.com/ZlxIEHaszY
— WNBA (@WNBA) September 17, 2020
Dangerfield was selected in the second round (No. 16 overall) by the Lynx in the 2019 WNBA Draft and the 5’5 guard exceeded any and all expectations that came with that.
With the No. 16 pick in the #WNBADraft 2020 presented by @StateFarm, the @minnesotalynx select Crystal Dangerfield from @UConnWBB! pic.twitter.com/spAo6s0YRS
— WNBA (@WNBA) April 18, 2020
After coming off the bench for the first two games of her young career, Reeve made the move to insert Dangerfield into the starting line up… the rest was history. The Lynx were able to produce Rookie of the Year’s in back-to-back seasons, but one key difference this time around is that Dangerfield became the first second-round draft pick to take home this elite award. It’s safe to say the Lynx snatched up the steal of the draft. The rook finished at the top of her class in free throw percentage (92.2%) and third overall in the league. Dangerfield ranked second among rookies in scoring, minutes (30.0 MPG) and assists (3.6 APG).
After Fowles could no longer sustain trying to play on an injured calf, it was Dantas that stepped up for the Lynx in a huge way. The six-year pro became a nightmare to defend. Her 43.3% shooting from downtown gave the 6’3 forward the ability to stretch the floor for the Lynx. Throughout the season Dantas emerged as one of the most versatile bigs in the league.
“This is her prime. She realizes everything about this league, what we want her to do, that we believe in her,” said coach Reeve. “She has everything around her. She loves this team, what it’s about. This is the best possible space she could be in.
“When she plays well we don’t lose.”
The native of Brazil finished the season with career-high averages of 12.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG and a 46.4 overall field goal percentage.
On September 10, Dantas signed a multi-year contract extension with the franchise.
Cheryl Reeve Named 2020 Coach of the Year
Coach Reeve was named the WNBA Coach of the Year for the third time in her career. This accomplishment came after leading the Lynx to a 14-8 record. In her 12th season, Reeve shaped the team around Rookie of the Year Crystal Dangerfield and former Rookie of the Year Napheesa Collier. Furthermore, the Lynx ranked top six in points, field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage, rebounding, assists and steals.
Congratulations to @lynxcoachreeve on being named the #WNBA Coach of the Year for the 3rd time in her career!
Full release: https://t.co/jEQc9Me6wN pic.twitter.com/X3QXP67TrO
— WNBA (@WNBA) September 17, 2020
Odyssey Sims Returns From Maternity Leave
In a season that meant so much more, Sims took the initiative to return to play after being out on maternity leave. Nine games into the season, the 5’8 guard suited up in Bradenton, Florida. In comparison, Sims logged a career-low 18.5 MPG but her production was still essential to the Lynx success. In just 13 games, Sims averaged 9.4 PPG, 3.5 APG, and shot a career-high 90.9% from the stripe.
Sylvia Fowles Becomes WNBA All-Time Rebounding Leader
On July 28, Fowles recorded her 3,357th-career rebound, passing Lynx Assistant Coach Rebekkah Brunson on the leaderboards.
“Such an unbelievable moment. I’m very happy with how this panned out, and I’m happy I had a chance to honor BB for all the work that she put in,” said Fowles. “Sorry BB that I had to break your title, but that’s just what it is.”
.@twin1532 is the first to congratulate @SylviaFowles on passing her and becoming the WNBA's all-time rebounding leader! pic.twitter.com/W1QZznKdrS
— WNBA (@WNBA) July 29, 2020