Kenisha Bell may have been a late pick in the WNBA draft this year, but she’s quickly proving that she’s up to the challenge of Lynx training camp.
The WNBA is a different game than college and the competition is tougher. That in turn makes Bell’s game—largely focused on getting to the rim—more difficult. To succeed in the WNBA Bell needs to become more of a shooter. She’s taken on that challenge.
“She’s adjusting to my desire for spacing and shot selection,” said head coach Cheryl Reeve. “I want her to shoot a three and I know Lindsay Whalen wanted her to shoot the three more. Now she knows it’s really not optional.”
Bell didn’t need to be told twice.
“As soon as she gave me the green light to shoot and that’s what she wanted to do, I’ve always taken different ideas and things from the coaches and use that in my game because they see more off the court than what I see on the court,” she said. “If I’m constantly getting reminded, I don’t want that. I want them to tell me one time and then I get it right away. I’ve been learning to take in the coaching and do what they ask.”
That being said, Bell has been impressive, especially in scrimmage play. She hustles and plays extremely hard and she has the athleticism to make real impact plays.
“Kenisha, her best days are when we’re playing up and down because she shows you she’s pro athletically,” said Reeve. “She is just somebody someone that gets to places in a hurry. She can screw up a defensive assignment and catch up and fix her error. Not many players can do that.”
That’s the way it’s always been with Bell. Her defense and her work in transition have always been the highlights of her game. She’s tenacious and athletic. On offense, though, it’s harder to get to the rim against WNBA athletes, Bell has still shown herself to be in a class of her own.
“She gets to the rim like no other, and she’s been able to show a little bit of everything, and I used the word trust. She’s someone that when she’s out there I feel good. I feel like decent things are going to happen,” said Reeve.
Despite her hard work, Bell’s place on the roster is far from guaranteed. She’s put herself in the conversation though and if she can continue to improve her efficiency and shooting, she has a shot. Thursday’s practice and Friday’s game against the Washington Mystics will be good opportunities for Bell to show what she can do.
“Kenisha has been a sponge. She wants to know what she can do, what she can work on, but the bottom line is they have to play,” said Reeve.
Bell is taking things one step at a time. She’s taking in the advice of the coaches and trying to keep herself playing hard without playing outside herself. Bell has always played at breakneck speed but now she needs to also focus on where to be on the floor in a more complicated pro system.
“Just learning when to pick and choose when to speed it up and when to slow it down,” she said. “Sometimes I move too fast for myself, so I’m just learning that right now at this level it’s about I.Q. and about being smart, so learning my pace and slowing down when I need to has been the biggest transition so far.”
Whatever the results from Bell’s first WNBA training camp end up being, she definitely has a shot at a future in professional basketball. Her time with the Lynx is valuable whether or not she makes the team this year. She’s getting better, she’s playing smarter and one way or another, that work will pay off.