In celebration of the Minnesota Lynx' 15th-year anniversary, Lynxbasketball.com compiled a list of the Lynx players we believe helped the team the most both on and off the court since the teams inception in 1999. Not all the players were the top players on their team at the time, and really, one person on this list never even played for the team. The Lynx have gone through their ups and downs throughout those years, but in Year 15, they're one of the best teams in the league. Without further ado, here is the list in alphabetical order:
Only Katie Smith has appeared in more games for the Lynx than Abrosimova. She's third in career points and assists, second in rebounds and first in steals. Abrosimova was part of the team's only two playoff appearances before 2011 and led the Lynx to their first winning season (18-16) in 2003. Abrosimova helped Russia win the bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The Lynx chose Abrosimova with the 7th overall pick in the 2001 WNBA Draft and she had an immediate impact, averaging 13.2 ppg and 6.7 rpg as a rookie.
Augustus has been with the Lynx through thick and thin. She is first in the team's history in points, points per game (19.1), field goals made (1,460) and free-throw percentage (.864). She ranks in the top five in multiple categories, but we have a word count here. Her main strength has been creating offense, tallying 21.9 papg as a rookie in 2006 and upping that to 22.6 ppg (scoring a franchise-record 769 points) the following season. Minnesota won the 2011 WNBA Championship and Augustus was named Finals MVP. The Lynx chose Augustus with the 1st overall pick in the 2007 WNBA Draft. Other accolades include WNBA Rookie of the Year (2006), First Team All-WNBA (2012), three-time WNBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist. Not a bad little resume. The scary thing? Augustus isn't even 30 yet...
Brunson has only been with Minnesota for three seasons, but she's unquestionably made the most out of that time. She's on the verge of becoming the Lynx' all-time leading rebounder, entering 2013 just 140 boards in back of Tamika Raymond. Her 9.3 rpg are two more than any other Lynx player has averaged in a career. She was acquired in the 2009 Sacramento Monarchs dispersal draft. She's played in two All-Star Games with Minnesota, was named to the WNBA All-Defensive team in both 2010 and 2011, and helped Minnesota win the 2011 WNBA Championship.
Okay, maybe she was 38 years old when she joined the team in 2003 and her numbers might not have been staggering, but she was one of the most influential players the team has ever had on its roster. Prior to joining the Lynx, Edwards had won five Olympic medals (four gold, one bronze), and starred as a player-coach in the American Basketball League (1996-99). Minnesota advanced to the WNBA Playoffs in both seasons she was in uniform, and she still ranks fourth in team history averaging 3.3 assists per game. She rejoined the Lynx in 2007 as an assistant coach, and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.
The Lynx had to be pleasantly surprised with Houston after selecting her in the third round (30th overall) of the 2008 WNBA Draft. Houston was named to the 2009 WNBA All-Star Team during a season in which she averaged a career-high 13.1 ppg and 5.5 rpg, and led the team in three-pointers made (46) in 2010. She was a part of the 2011 WNBA Championship team and currently plays for the Phoenix Mercury.
The guard who called herself "B-Money" was certainly that during her rookie campaign. The Lynx drafted Lennox with the 6th overall pick in the 2000 WNBA Draft, and she proceeded to earn Rookie of the Year honors and a spot in the 2000 WNBA All-Star Game while averaging 16.9 ppg and a career-high 5.6 rpg. She ranks fourth in team history with a 14.4 ppg scoring average. Lennox played for the Miami Sol, Cleveland Rockers, Seattle Storm, Atlanta Dream, Los Angeles Sparks and Tulsa Shock after leaving the Lynx.
Mama Taj brought one thing to the Lynx after signing as a free agent in 2011 that doesn't show up in the stat line: Leadership. Head coach Cheryl Reeve has said time after time how the center helped the team immensely during its championship run in 2011. McWilliams-Franklin was only on the team for two seasons before announcing her retirement, but she ranks third on the franchise's career charts in both rebounding (5.7 rpg) and FG accuracy (.480). She led the team in blocks during both of her seasons, as well. Taj finished her career as the WNBA's all-time leader in offensive rebounds and her 59 playoff appearances also rank first in league history. She is currently an assistant coach with the New York Liberty.
There's no arguing that Moore has helped put Minnesota basketball on the map. After being selected 1st overall in the 2011 WNBA Draft, Moore hasn't disappointed. She led the team in points, three-pointers made, steals and FT percentage last season. In fact, she already sits fifth in team history with 131 three-pointers made and third with a 14.8 points per game average. In the 2011 playoff run, Moore was the team's second-leading scorer. Since joining the Lynx, Moore was voted as a starter in the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game and named the WNBA's Rookie of the Year. She joined with Lynx teammates Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen to win a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics. We have a feeling she'll own a few more records when it's all said and done.
Ohlde was taken with the 6th overall pick in the 2004 WNBA Draft and averaged 11.7 ppg and 5.7 rpg during her rookie season. Her 1,695 points rank fourth in team history and her 898 rebounds are tied with Svetlana Abrosimova for second all-time. Ohlde was a key cog in the team's second consecutive playoff appearance in 2004 and started every game of her five-year stay in Minnesota. After being traded in 2008, Ohlde played for the Phoenix Mercury and Tulsa Shock.
Chosen with the 6th overall pick in the 2002 WNBA Draft, Raymond set the WNBA single-season record for field-goal accuracy by shooting 66.8% from the floor in 2003 (a mark that still stands). During that season, she averaged 8.9 ppg and 6.1 rpg to help the Lynx advance to the WNBA Playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Although she was never an All-Star, she is Minnesota's all-time leading rebounder and tallied 14.8 ppg and 7.8 rpg in five playoff games with the Lynx. She was traded to Connecticut in 2008.
Coach Cheryl Reeve, 2010-Present
Stats with Lynx: 102 games, 67-35 record, 2-time Western Conference Champion, 1-time WNBA Champion
After winning just 13 games during her first year as head coach, Reeve helped organize the league's best roster en route to winning the 2011 WNBA Championship and was named Coach of the Year that season. Her team has won 27 games in back-to-back seasons and she hopes to add another title to her resume in 2013. Before arriving in Minnesota, Reeve coached with the Charlotte Sting, Cleveland Rockers and Detroit Shock. The Lynx were the first team to give her a head coaching opportunity and it's safe to say Executive Vice President Roger Griffith looks pretty smart for this hire.
Smith was the face of Minnesota women's basketball for nearly seven seasons. The three-point machine was forced to carry the team when it first was introduced to the WNBA, averaging 20.2 ppg in 2000 and boosting that to a then-league-record (and still franchise-best) 23.1 ppg in 2001. The latter season was highlighted by a club-record 46-point performance against Los Angeles (July 8, 2001). She remains second on the Lynx' career chart in total points, points per game and assists, and first in three-pointers made and FTs made. She was named to the WNBA All-Star game five times (from 2000-03 and again in 2005) and was named to the All-WNBA First Team in 2001 and 2003 and the WNBA's All-Decade Team in 2006. She also helped Team USA win Olympic gold medals in 2000, 2004 and 2008. After being traded in 2005, she's played for the Detroit Shock, Washington Mystics, Seattle Storm and New York Liberty. She has 6,247 career points, ranking third in WNBA history.
The homegrown Whalen excited fans in 2004 when she led the University of Minnesota to the Final Four. Well, fast-forward seven years later and Whalen had Minnesota on its feet again as she helped the Lynx win the 2011 WNBA Championship. It's obvious Minnesota is glad to have her back. The Lynx traded for the Hutchinson native prior to the 2010 season, and since then she's done nothing but dribbled and dished her way into the record books. In just three seasons, Whalen already holds the franchise career record with 561 assists, having led the league in that category in each of the past two years. All in all, 2011 was a pretty special year for Whalen. Along with the title, she played in the WNBA All-Star Game and was named to the All-WNBA First Team. Whalen, Moore and Augustus helped the United States win the Olympic gold medal in 2012, as well. Welcome home, Lindsay.
Selected by Minnesota with the 3rd overall pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft, Wiggins went on to be named Sixth Woman of the Year as a rookie while setting a league single-season record for scoring off the bench (15.7 ppg). During 2012 she remained the team's primary player off the bench, finishing eighth in the WNBA in three-pointers made with a career-high 58. She ranks fifth in team history in total points, second with 207 career three-pointers and third in FT accuracy (.847). This past offseason, Wiggins was traded to the Tulsa Shock in a deal that brought Janel McCarville to Minnesota.
Wright was taken with the 2nd overall pick in 2010 and had a great debut season, being named to the WNBA's All-Rookie Team after averaging 11.1 ppg. Since then, she's unselfishly played off the bench and has become one of the top defenders in the entire league. This season, Wright will play the point guard, shooting guard and small forward, making her one of Minnesota's most versatile players and one of the favorites to win the WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year Award.
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