In 2020, Damiris Dantas went from role player to franchise building block during the Minnesota Lynx’s run to the WNBA Semifinals in Bradenton, Florida.
After a winter showcasing what she could do as the focal point of an offense with the Brazilian National Team, Dantas carried that momentum into her second season since re-joining the Lynx in 2019. The 27-year-old from Sao Paulo’s emergence came when Head Coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve needed her most, following the loss of All-Star center Sylvia Fowles for the majority of the season with a calf injury.
“It’s a step we envisioned for her,” Reeve told the media following Dantas’ career-high 28-point output versus the Chicago Sky on September 3 . “This is her prime. She realizes everything about this league, what we want her to do, that we believe in her. She has everything around her. She loves this team, what it’s about. This is the best possible space she could be in.
“When she plays well we don’t lose.”
With Fowles sidelined, Dantas took the reigns of the center position for the Lynx. While filling in seamlessly with her back-to-basket post play in Fowles’ absence, Dantas also transformed the Minnesota offense with her ability to stretch the floor as a shooter.
The Brazilian scored in double-figures in each of the final seven games of the regular season, posting at least 15 points in five of those contests. Over the 22-game campaign, Dantas shot 44.3% from three-point on just over four attempts beyond the arc per game, cementing her spot as one of the WNBA’s elite-shooting bigs. She finished the season with averages of 12.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game.
Dantas’ standout play continued into the postseason. Her 22 points and eight rebounds on 9-of-17 shooting was the lift the Lynx needed in a nail-biter to advance past the Phoenix Mercury in the Second Round.
Affectionately known as “DD” among her teammates and fans alike, Dantas was rewarded with a multi-year contract extension at season’s end. The love the Lynx have for Dantas and her reciprocal love she’s exhibited toward the Twin Cities and the organization doesn’t seem to be fading anytime soon.
“I love this team,” an emotional Dantas said following Minnesota’s elimination in the Semifinals. “I love the coaches, everybody with the Lynx.
“For me, this is my family in America.”