Much like the other 11 WNBA franchises, the Minnesota Lynx opened their 2021 Training Camp on Sunday afternoon with the goal of lifting a championship in October.
Unlike two-thirds of the league, Minnesota has the pieces in place to hang a fifth banner in Target Center this season. After grinding their way to fourth-place finish and a WNBA Semifinals appearance in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., Lynx Head Coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve spent the winter bolstering her roster with the free agent signings of three-time All-Star Kayla McBride, dynamic wing Aerial Powers, and veteran post Natalie Achonwa. Reeved added to her haul earlier in April, drafting versatile forward Rennia Davis with the No. 9 pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft.
Now Reeve must build cohesion between new faces and a returning core.
“Now it’s the technical part; it’s the getting on the court, it’s the figuring out of which pieces go where,” Reeve told media over Zoom.
“Making sure that positionally, the combinations [work]… That’s all the fun of coaching.”
Reeve’s main selling point in her pursuit of free agents this offseason was Minnesota’s championship culture. The feeling of championship aspiration was palpable at Mayo Clinic Square on Sunday.
“That’s why they chose to come here: they saw a foundation has been laid and there’s an opportunity for our team to compete for a championship,” Reeve said. “They recognize it, and they all were super excited. The waiting was really hard, now it’s real.”
Though 2017 WNBA Most Valuable Player Sylvia Fowles is healthy and “98% recovered” from a calf injury that kept her out for most of 2020, the Lynx begin Training Camp without 2020 All-WNBA selection Napheesa Collier and the aforementioned three-time All-Star Kayla McBride due to overseas commitments. Integrating the duo will be more challenging in 2021 than in years past due to COVID-19 protocols when they arrive in the coming weeks, but Reeve is eager to see how the pieces fit.
“There’s the challenge of when a player comes, trying to insert them in what we’re doing and catch up on the vibe, but that’s everybody’s reality,” Reeve noted.
The Lynx get their first taste of preseason action when they head south to take on the Atlanta Dream on Saturday afternoon.