Six seasons with one team in the WNBA can feel like an eternity. Instead of returning to the Indiana Fever this offseason, Natalie Achonwa stepped outside of the comfort zone she’d grown accustomed to and joined the Minnesota Lynx as a free agent with championship goals in mind.
Three days into Training Camp, Achonwa is already making an impact on her new squad.
“She does a great job of just communicating and knowing what’s supposed to happen,” Lynx Head Coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve said of the veteran Achonwa. “Anytime she’s on the floor — you always say this with passing bigs or smart players, good screeners — the stuff just runs so smoothly. You’re in-sync. We tell them that’s how you build a chemistry: talking and communicating.”
“Natalie is constantly in-tune to what’s happening and what should happen next.”
Moving from Indiana to Minnesota, the transition has been a smooth one for the veteran post.
“It’s been amazing,” Achonwa told media Wednesday afternoon. “Just to be in this environment and to be surrounded by so much greatness, so much knowledge from our coaching staff to being to work along with Syl[via Fowles] has been great so far.
“There’s been a permanent smile on my face these past couple days.”
Behind Fowles, Achonwa is the most experienced player currently in Lynx Training camp with 168 career WNBA games to her resume. But like a lot of the younger players in camp, Achonwa is absorbing as much as she can from the WNBA’s all-time leading rebounder Fowles.
“It’s crazy to be on the other side of Syl now, because we’ve been competitors against each other for years,” Achonwa said. “Syl is a great teammate, and she’s a great person. Sometimes, when we’re just kinda chatting about whatever happened in the play before, it’s so easy to get distracted because of how similar we think and how similar we think the game. It’s been great to be around her.”
Off the court, Achonwa hasn’t been able to explore much of the Twin Cities since arriving earlier in April. But if you see her walking her dogs, she’ll greet you with her infectious Canadian charm.
“Everyone’s really nice,” she said of her new home. “A lot of the interactions come from passerbys when I’m walking my dogs, and they’re really welcoming and friendly… Even through masks, you can feel a person’s energy.”