Minnesota Lynx 2022 Season Preview: Sweet Syl’s Swan Song

Don’t ever count out the Lynx. This organization has a history of winning and plans to keep it that way.

Minnesota stumbled out of the gates last season, and critics raised their magnifying glasses when coach Reeve and company started 0-4. Some even questioned whether or not legendary center Sylvia Fowles had anything left in the tank.

On all counts, those critics were wrong. The Lynx burned through the back half of their season and finished with the third seed. Sylvia took home her fourth DPOY award. The team finished fourth in net rating (+5.1) and third in defensive rating (99.1).

Minnesota fell to the eventual champion Chicago Sky in a single-elimination playoff game, but with the league changing the playoff format they won’t have to worry about facing such a situation in Syl’s last season.

Again, the Lynx rarely find themselves being discussed as a top contender heading into this season. They’ve leaned by adding a few additional veteran players and will seemingly be gunning for a WNBA championship.

Star forward Napheesa Collier will likely miss the entire season, as she’s expecting her first child in the coming months. Kayla McBride will be a late addition to the team due to her overseas commitments.

Let’s take a look at some of the Lynx’ important offseason transactions and potential outcomes for the season.

Key Departures

  • Layshia Clarendon (G)
  • Crystal Dangerfield (G)
  • Rennia Davis (F)

In a surprising pre-season move, the Lynx cut all of the aforementioned players during training camp. Rennia Davis never had a chance to establish herself in the league, suffering a season-ending injury in May last year, shortly after being drafted by the Lynx.

Layshia Clarendon was brought in last season after being waived by New York and played heavy minutes for the Lynx down the stretch. Those minutes will be crucial to replace in the guard rotation, but Minnesota must have a plan since they chose to move on.

The Dangerfield cut was also a surprise to many WNBA fans. She won rookie of the year in 2020, and then was thrust into the role of point guard last year. Her overall production dipped significantly, but her improvement as a three-point shooter was noticeable.

The timing of the waives of Dangerfield and Clarendon would allow for them to sign hardship contracts with other clubs, but roster space is limited across the league.

Key Additions

  • Angel McCoughtry (F)
  • Odyssey Sims (G)

The signing of unrestricted free agent Angel McCoughtry was a huge get for Reeve and the Lynx front office. The 12-year veteran has missed two of the last three seasons with injury, but McCoughtry’s all-around game is elite. Her career averages are 18.7 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. At the peak of her powers, Angel can take over and win you a game.

Following the cuts of guards Dangerfield and Clarendon, the Lynx brought Odyssey Sims back to Minnesota. Before spending a year in Atlanta, Sims was with the Lynx for two seasons. In 2019 she represented Minnesota in the all-star game and posted a career-high 5.4 assists per game. She’ll likely be used as one of the team’s primary ball handlers and distributors, which was an area of weakness last season.

Draft Picks

  • 22nd: Kayla Jones (F, NC State)
  • 28th: Hannah Sjerven (F, South Dakota)

The Lynx punted on the 2022 draft and traded their first-round pick to Vegas. Both selections have already been waived by the time of publishing this article.

Projected Starting Lineup

  • G: Odyssey Sims
  • G: Kayla McBride
  • F: Angel McCoughtry
  • F: Damiris Dantis
  • C: Sylvia Fowles

Coach Reeve has a deep roster to work with this season. Fowles and McBride are the obvious locks to start and close games. They’ll be the primary offensive production for the Lynx, and Sylvia will be crucial as an anchor defensively. A healthy McCoughtry would also be a no-brainer in the best lineups, but she’s missed a ton of time in recent seasons.

Competition for the other guard spot includes Rachel Banham and Aerial Powers, but neither has the playmaking prowess that Sims has. With McBride’s ability to slash and also shoot a variety of jump shots off screens, pairing her with Sims gives the Lynx more versatility in their offensive game.

Bridget Carleton hasn’t proven herself as a productive player in the WNBA thus far, but her offensive game is (in theory, at least) more versatile than Dantis’. Depending on matchups, and the need for offense/defense situationally, expect those two players to be interchanged.

Natalie Achonwa could play the four next to Sylvia, but she’s more likely to be used as the backup center on this team.

Season Outlook

Minnesota is going to need to see tangible improvements in the half court offensively to win three consecutive playoff series. The most realistic path to that happening is McBride having another red-hot shooting season and their bench being one of the best in the league. If Powers, Banham, and Sims can combine for 10+ assists per game, they should be able to platoon themselves to a better playmaking season.

Not having Napheesa in the front court will be tough to overcome. A step forward from Achonwa, Dantis, or Carleton can help close the gap, but these three players seem to have a ”solid rotation player” ceiling from what we’ve seen so far.

Sylvia Fowles is still one of the most dominant two-way players in the league. As long as she’s on the floor, the Lynx can play with anybody.

The Lynx may not be at the top of many pre-season power rankings lists, but they must be taken seriously as contenders.


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