Stats: 32 games, 29 starts, 5.7 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 3.1 APG, 0.6 SPG, 36.3 FG%, 35.7 3P%, 88.1 FT%
Season in a Nutshell: A fitting conclusion to a legendary career and a smooth passing of the torch.
A Deeper Dive: Lindsay Whalen might not have had the best statistical season of her career this year, but her farewell tour gave fans plenty of opportunities to be reminded why she is such a special player.
After she accepted the position of head coach for the University of Minnesota women’s basketball team, most people assumed that 2018 would be Whalen’s last year as the Lynx’s starting point guard. Whalen’s retirement announcement late in the season confirmed the rumors. Her retirement announcement press conference and the celebration in her honor at the Lynx’s last game of the season were both touching yet lighthearted affairs where Whalen reminded us all of the qualities that make her such a special leader and player.
Despite Whalen confirming her retirement with just three games left in the regular season, in her own way, she’d been preparing the team for her departure for the entire season. Whalen was a key teacher and leader for the Lynx’s younger players and newer veterans. She was instrumental in helping Danielle Robinson learn Minnesota’s system, priming the speedy guard to take the reins from Whalen and bring the ball up for Minnesota next year. Whalen’s relationships went up and down the roster, from players she barely knew to ones she’d gone into battle with for years.
Whalen will be missed most for her leadership, but it’s that same leadership that will also allow the Lynx to thrive in the post-Whalen era. The Lynx have a well-established culture of winning, and that’s due in large part to Whalen’s influence. That culture will persist even in Whalen’s absence.
Top Three Games:
3. June 22 at Phoenix
Whalen scored 15 points and added a season-high five steals in a critical midseason victory over the Mercury. She also had three rebounds and two assists. The hallmark of Whalen’s season, and her career, is her ability to do whatever her team needs from her. This game, it was scoring and defense, but in the Lynx’s next game at Las Vegas, Whalen dished out nine assists. That’s versatility.
2. August 19 vs. Washington
This might not have been her best statistical performance of the year, but it was an incredibly solid final regular-season game of her career. Importantly, the Lynx also got a win! Whalen’s numbers were impressive, she scored 10 with six assists, five rebounds and four steals, but it was her performance on the mic after the game was over that provided the cherry on top.
1. July 13 vs. Las Vegas
Unfortunately, Whalen’s best game of the season came in a loss. It certainly wasn’t her fault though. She dropped 22 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out five assists and was a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc. This was a classic Whalen game. Though she didn’t get enough to carry her team to the victory, she did everything she could to put her team in a position to succeed. It’s games like this that the Lynx will really miss next year.
Offseason Objectives: Rest, relax and win the NCAA Championship.
Maybe that’s too high of an expectation for Whalen’s first season with the Gophers, but she’s a competitive person so that will certainly be the goal. More realistically, Whalen should focus on solidifying her playbook, recruiting great players and bringing U of M basketball back to the top.
Role in 2019: Lynx super-fan and Gophers head coach. Whalen’s tenure with the Lynx is over but there’s no doubt she’ll be paying attention as her former teammates return to the court to fight for the WNBA championship yet again.