Stats: 29 games, 6 starts, 16.5 MPG, 5.7 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.1 APG, 40.9 FG%, 38.3 3P%, 84 FT%
A Deeper Dive:
Talk about a role changing over the course of the season.
The second-year Italian assassin didn’t appear in two of the team’s first four games. But as the season evolved, she got more and more minutes, and that equated to more and more production. And confidence.
Zandalasini finished with six games of 10 or more points and 10 with eight or more points. That’s saying something on a team that’s had its core group of scorers on it for the majority of the last seven seasons.
“It was a process,” Zandalasini said on getting more of an opportunity at her end-of-the-season press conference. “Because I really wasn’t playing, then I started playing and then I ended up being the first five. I was talking with coach. She said that the team was trusting me, that she was trusting me. So I think that at that moment, I was more confident in myself.”
We saw coach Cheryl Reeve’s confidence in Zandalasini grow throughout the season. When the team was fighting for playoff position down the stretch, Zandalasini played 20 or more minutes in five of six games, and more than 30 minutes in the final two games.
“In the case of Zandalasini, we identified that this was a young player who wasn’t getting opportunity,” Reeve said. ” . . . Sometimes when you’re a reserve player, you don’t get the reps in practice . . . We created more opportunities to observe her more and through that she earned time.”
The fact that the Lynx were able to get Zandalasini to sign a free-agent deal in Aug. of 2017 goes to show just how much work the team’s scouting department put in. And now it’s paying off. Zandalasini looks like the has the tools to be a key part of this team for years to come.
Top Three Games:
- Aug. 19 vs. Washington
Zandalasini finished with 12 points, three rebounds and one assist in this win over the Mystics. She shot 5-for-10 from the field and 2-for-5 from the 3-point line.
- Aug. 7 at Chicago
In this win over the Sky on the road, Zandalasini finished with 11 points, two steals, one rebound and one assist while shooting 3-for-6 from the field, all made shots coming from deep. She was also a perfect 2-for-2 from the free-throw line.
- June 16 vs. New York
In this win over the Liberty, Zandalasini played 23 minutes and finished with 13 points, three steals, three rebounds and two assists. She shot a near-perfect 5-for-6 from the field, 2-for-3 from deep and 1-for-1 from the free-throw line.
Zandalasini will be playing for Fenerbahce in Turkey this offseason.
At only 22 years old, Zandalasini has so much untapped potential, just playing basketball is going to result in natural progression. Her bread and butter in the league will be her 3-point shot, as it was last season. If she can continue to develop that, along with attacking the basket, she could incredibly dangerous offensively. She’s not the most-explosive athlete, but she has a very good feel for the game.
Role in 2019:
The projected starting lineup right now is:
PG – Danielle Robinson
SG – Seimone Augustus
SF – Maya Moore
PF – Rebekkah Brunson
C – Sylvia Fowles
But we still don’t know the status of Augustus and Brunson heading into the 2019 season. Whether Zandalasini starts or not, expect her to get some huge minutes for the Lynx. I wouldn’t be surprised if her 16.5 minutes per game last season jumped to 25. She’ll be a player relied on to create offense. It certainly looks like she’s a core piece of the new age of Lynx basketball.