Lynx

Lynx to Transform in 2024

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The Minnesota Lynx have been anything but shy in the 2024 WNBA offseason.

Undergoing significant and necessary transformations to strengthen their roster, the team has positioned itself as a serious contender for the upcoming season.

After dubbing a first-round exit in the 2023 playoffs thanks to the Connecticut Sun, the Lynx will be looking to improve their depth and defensive rating. 

While recent news points to uncertainty and conflict surrounding the sale of the Timberwolves and Lynx to Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore, it should not detract from the exciting offseason moves made by the Lynx and what looks to be a phenomenal year.

Signings and Trades

Minnesota initiated the first stand-out trade in the league by sending Tiffany Mitchell to the Connecticut Sun for Natisha Hiedeman.

In hopes of improving defense and adding an accomplished guard to the roster, the Lynx knew bringing Hiedeman onboard would let them do just that. Averaging 8.5 points and 2.7 assists in the 2023 season, Hiedeman proved to be a force for the Sun that will transfer well to Minnesota. “Whatever the team needs is what I’m gonna bring,” Hiedeman said in a virtual press conference via the Lynx Instagram on March 16.

Acquiring both a forward and a guard from the Chicago Sky was another momentous decision that will boost the Lynx in scoring and rim protection. The packaged duo of Courtney Williams and Alanna Smith will create a new dynamic in Minnesota alongside team leaders Napheesa Collier and Kayla McBride to make Minnesota unstoppable. 

As a first-time point guard for Chicago last year, Williams showed her versatile abilities to lead in more ways than one. Averaging 10.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists last year for the Sky, the stats alone prove that adding a player like this to the Lynx roster is a key ingredient for flexibility on both defensive and offensive ends.

Smith averaged 9.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists for Chicago last year. Her ability to play near the rim, both scoring and protecting, brings a step up to the Lynx, unlocking new possibilities defensively. “‘Lan is just a ball of great energy,” Williams boasted about her teammate on March 12 via the Lynx Instagram.

Minnesota is also gearing up for training camp. Liz Dixon, Kayana Traylor, Jaime Nared, Ruthy Hebard, Olivia Époupa and familiar face Taylor Soule, who was initially drafted by the Lynx last year, will all have a chance to make the final Lynx roster.

Rachel Banham, Tiffany Mitchell, Lindsay Allen and Aerial Powers all had defining careers in Minnesota. Although the Lynx said goodbye to incredible players that provided immense success to the team over multiple seasons, the team is taking a massive step forward in 2024. 

The Lynx Abroad

Several Lynx players actively competed overseas during the offseason with a number of major achievements. 

Earning a spot on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list wasn’t Napheesa Collier’s only achievement this past offseason. Getting to play alongside Kayla McBride for Feberbahçhe in Turkey was another plus, and she also made a mark for Team USA in the Olympic Qualifying tournament. Collier led the team in scoring across all three games, hoping to contribute that success into the coming WNBA season. 

Canada’s Bridget Carleton, who re-signed with Minnesota on a two-year deal in January, spent her offseason in Hungary with UNI Györ. Carleton not only declared herself a top scorer on the team, but also landed a spot as third on the EuroLeague all-time single-game scoring list in January. Carleton and Team Canada qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics in early February, marking her second Olympic appearance after playing for her home country in 2020.

2023 rookie standout Dorka Juhász competed in Italy for Familia Schio, recently recording a double-double against USK Prague with 15 points and 11 rebounds. She was also named MVP of the game on March 17 against Faenza Basket Project with 19 points and eight rebounds. Juhász represented her home country of Hungary in hopes of qualifying for the 2024 Olympics but fell short against Spain in a heartbreaking 73-72 loss. Juhász’s sophomore season in the WNBA will be one to look forward to.

Rising star Diamond Miller was set to play in Hungary alongside Carleton during the summer months, but put her season on hold after suffering a knee injury requiring surgery. The team is optimistic this will not hinder her second year with the Lynx.

Some tougher news for Lynx fans this offseason is the anticipated absence of Jessica Shepard and Nina Milić, as both have chosen to remain overseas for the 2024 season. Shepard will be competing alongside her team Umana Reyer Venezia in Italy, while Milić stays with Feberbahçhe in Turkey. The loss of these two forwards will be an adjustment for Minnesota, but the addition of Smith will help fill this void. 

Where Do the Lynx Stack Up?

With an offseason filled with trades by various teams and the anticipation of Iowa’s star Caitlin Clark entering the draft, the landscape of the WNBA is evolving for the better. The Lynx’s strategic moves coupled with the talent pool across the league raises questions about where they stand in the competitive hierarchy. 

Super teams New York Liberty and Las Vegas Aces remain at the top of the food chain. New York held onto key players like Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones, while Las Vegas re-signed Kiah Stokes and veteran Candace Parker.

The Phoenix Mercury are also one to watch in their process of rebuilding, signing powerful players like Kahleah Copper from the Chicago Sky and Natasha Cloud from the Washington Mystics.

With elite college players like Clark and Stanford’s Cameron Brink entering the draft, the women’s game is sure to grow and become more intense in 2024.

As to how the Lynx will stack up, it is important to note that they are in the process of rebuilding a dynasty. Coming off a season where Minnesota was ranked low in both scoring and defense, it will be intriguing to see how the new Lynx team will take shape in a rapidly changing league.

The WNBA draft is set to take place April 15, with the Lynx holding the No. 7 overall pick and seventh third-round pick. Stayed tuned to The Lead for updates throughout the 2024 season!

About Amelia Krigelski

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