Web Editorial Associate
The Minnesota Lynx were busy inside their draft war room on Thursday night as they traded their 14th selection in the 2016 WNBA Draft, Jazmon Gwathmey, for Jia Perkins of the San Antonio Stars.
Perkins is an 11-year pro and All-Star, and averaged 13.3 points per game in 26 starts last season. The 5’8 guard out of Texas Tech University is a solid two-way player who managed 1.4 steals per matchup last season.
“We’re very excited about it, we’re adding a person to our team that’s been an All-Star, who’s been in the league a long time, another double-figure scorer, another great team player, great character, that just fits in with this team,” Roger Griffith, general manager of the Minnesota Lynx said. “We’re in the (process) of defending another title and in the past we’ve been asked all the questions about extending our window, she’s a veteran, so that goes a little against that theory, but with what happened last year with another Championship, the acquisition of Sylvia (Fowles), we’re focused on doing everything we can to defend that title.”
Perkins has proven to be a relentless defender by ranking in the top-10 in steals per game each of the last four seasons, and provides the Lynx with reliable depth which can never be overlooked.
“This is another person who’s been in the Finals before, been in playoff games, and can really give us a lot off the bench, it really helps our depth there,” Griffith said.
Minnesota continued building to its championship team with the 22nd pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft by selecting Bashaara Graves.
Graves, a 6’2 forward from the University of Tennessee, as a senior averaged 10.3 points while making 53.8 percent of her shots and 8.3 rebounds per contest.
“We think she’s a player that fits what we like in terms of that she’s aggressive, pretty tenacious, high free-throw rate, pretty good passer, a little bit undersized, but we seem to do well with the 6’2 post players,” Cheryl Reeve, head coach of the Minnesota Lynx said. “I think more than anything a player that’s going to play really, really hard and the little things we need, she’ll do. She’s a good screener, you can switch on-ball screens with her, so I think she has a variety of things that could translate to our league.”
Graves, a Tennessee native, earned AP All-America Honorable Mention honors as well as AP All-SEC Second team honors her senior year as a Lady Volunteer.
“I’m very excited, throughout the night I was just waiting for my name to be called and finally it was called and I was just so excited and overwhelmed with emotion,” Graves said. “I talked to coach Patterson and she called me right after it was announced and she just wants me to come in and bring that same intensity, work effort that I brought at Tennessee and rebounding ability and to keep expanding my game.”
The Lynx capped off the draft with the 35th selection and picked Temi Fagbenle, a 6’4 forward from the University of Southern California.
Fagbenle averaged 13.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game her senior year at USC.
Coach Reeve announced after the draft that Fagbenle will forgo this summer of basketball with the Lynx in order to finish school.