Not many WNBA teams outside of Minnesota have the luxury having such a strong, established roster going into this season.
Olympians Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore return for the Lynx, as does hard-nosed forward Rebekkah Brunson. With this summers acquisition of former college All-American Janel McCarville at center, Minnesotas lineup largely seems to be set.
But beyond that group, who will step up? The good news for coach Cheryl Reeve and the rest of the Lynx front office is that the WNBA Draft is coming soon. The WNBA will host the 2013 Draft on Monday, with the first round beginning at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. Minnesota owns the 12th (Round 1), 14th (Round 2), 24th (Round 2) and 36th (Round 3) picks.
I think we have to improve through the draft, Reeve said. It will be a challenge where were down at pick 12 or 14.
Unlike last year, when Minnesota garnered the third overall pick, this season includes far more moving parts. College stars Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne and Skyler Diggins will be long gone by pick 12. One position that stands out for Reeve is guardspecifically someone who can play both point and on the wing.
A key contributor coming back is Monica Wright, a player whom Reeve has lauded as one of last years top candidates for Most Improved Player. She shared a backup role with Candice Wiggins, who was traded to Tulsa this offseason in the McCarville deal.
We used Candice as a backup to Lindsay, Reeve said. Not knowing whats going to happen in the draft, Monnies probably going to play some backup point for us. How she handles that, how I utilize her in that role, its going to be really important.
Wright is more aggressive while Whalen is more tactical and cautious. Last year, Wright impressed the coaching staff by expanding her game and becoming more comfortable driving to the hoop. The contrast in styles should be complementary, as a change of pace could be beneficial.
Shes very different from Lindsay in terms of mindset on running a team, Reeve said. Monnies just on go most of the time, so were trying to figure out how to maximize her talents.
Other competitors for backup guard time include newly-signed Jacki Gemelosa 2012 draft pick out of USCand whoever enters camp from the upcoming draft.
Looking at the frontcourt, the personnel involved seems to be set. But the starting center spot and backup rotation are going to be the most interesting questions going into camp for Minnesota.
Rebekkahs got her spot locked up, Reeve said, so the competition (is) between Janel (McCarville), Amber (Harris), Dev (Peterslast years No. 3 overall pick). With Jess (Adair), the question mark with her is health. Can she be healthy? Because that was her challenge last year.
Each player has different attributes; McCarville is a bruiser with a veteran pedigree. Harris is the most long and athletic on the roster, and Peters enjoyed a nice rookie campaign last season. Adair, who lost a considerable amount of weight when making her transition to the pros, remains an interesting prospect who shows potential.
Weve got to try to complement Brunson, Reeve said. We need someone in that spot who we can start throwing the ball to when we run our offense at the elbows. Thats really important.
The dark horse in all of this is Rachel Jarry, the Australian forward who will join camp this year.
The Australian, Rachel Jarry, that we drafted last year, she will be very competitive in camp, Reeve said. Shes got Olympic experience in Australia, I know shes aggressive, shes a fighter. The WNBA is new, so how she can exist there will be interesting with the physicality.
All of these storylines will make for an interesting preseason. While some might assume a team that made the WNBA Finals the last two seasons would have a roster set in stone, the backup situation is actually very fluid, providing fans a compelling reason to stay tuned.
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