When the New York Liberty selected Louisville’s Jazmine Jones with the 12th overall and final first-round pick of the 2020 WNBA Draft, one question surfaced: how did Crystal Dangerfield fall to the second round?
Even when the second round began, three players were selected before the UConn guard who was projected by many to be drafted midway through the first round.
Many spectators (including myself) may have been puzzled to see Dangerfield fall to the Lynx as the 16thoverall pick, but Dangerfield herself wasn’t fazed.
“I really wasn’t too worried about how high or where exactly I went,” said Dangerfield in Tuesday’s Zoom conference call. “I was just worried about the fit of the team, where I could see myself playing. That’s what every rookie wants — when they get to the league to make the team and know they’ll have some playing time.
“I think I found that with the Minnesota Lynx, so that’s what I’m really looking forward to.”
Dangerfield and the Lynx’s new partnership presents — and I can’t stress this enough — plenty of things for fans to look forward to.
First, let’s consider the similarities between her college coach Geno Auriemma and her soon-to-be coach Cheryl Reeve.
“Coach Auriemma, he expects a lot of us from the first time we step on to the court,” Dangerfield said. “So just how I approach it mentally, emotionally, physically. We work hard, we work out hard, we’re in great shape.”
Sound like how anyone else you know runs their program?
Auriemma, of course, demanded a lot from his former starting point guard, and the standards he held Dangerfield to will give her an advantage as she tries to eventually secure the same role in Minnesota.
“I talked to Renee (Montgomery) right after (the draft) and she had expressed that coach Reeve was going to be hard on the point guard like coach Auriemma was, so it won’t be anything too new,” Dangerfield said. “Anytime you’re looking at a winning culture, that’s attractive to you, especially as a player. You’re competitive, you want to win, and like you said, the standards are the same. The coaching staff is going to push you and be on you to be the best version of yourself.”
The Lynx’s second-round draft pick is confident in her ability to be two or three plays ahead of opponents, push the pace, collapse defenses and stretch the floor with her shooting range that goes beyond 27 feet from the basket.
But she knows there will be hiccups along the way and that her role in Minnesota won’t mirror the one she carried out for the Huskies right from the get-go.
“First and foremost, I’m going to go in like a sponge because those players do have years of experience on me,” Dangerfield said. “So I’m just going to pick up what I can from them just the first couple of weeks and slowly start to assert myself because I do want a significant role. But it’s not going to come easy. There’s always going to be an adjustment period, but it’s understanding that and still having confidence in myself to go out there and perform the way I know I can.”
Dangerfield knows a WNBA career isn’t defined by when a player is selected in the draft, but she’s confident falling to No. 16 will pay dividends for her and the Lynx.