Moriah Jefferson, Lynx Return to Form


Moriah Jefferson has entered her name in the conversation for Most Improved Player. In five games with the Minnesota Lynx, the former #2 overall pick has been near career highs in many statistics. The Lynx, 0-3 before signing Jefferson, have begun to return to form. Going 2-3 since inserting the guard into the starting lineup.

Back to the Future?

In 2016, Jefferson came off a dominant run with the University of Connecticut and was selected second overall by the San Antonio Stars. She was afforded a lot of opportunity in her rookie season, leading the team in minutes, points, 3-pointers, assists and steals. But injuries would hamper her for the next few years.

After playing in 34 games as a rookie, Jefferson would not near 30 games again until reaching 29 in 2021. But the opportunity was not present for her in Dallas. Nearly every stat line was slashed in half. Then, after just over four minutes played to begin 2022, Dallas waived Jefferson.

As a team going through major roster flux and a desperate need for a starting point guard, Minnesota and Head Coach Cheryl Reeve saw opportunity. But first she reached out to one of her own players, still overseas, Kayla McBride. McBride was a teammate of Jefferson’s for the first three years of her career and was able to give Reeve extra insight beyond the stat lines.

Reeve took no hesitation after signing Jefferson in announcing she would be starting. There would be no restrictions and she would have the opportunity to take her role as far as she could. In her first game with the Lynx, Jefferson put up 16 points in 35 minutes. Both topping her highs with Dallas and numbers she had not reached since her sophomore season in San Antonio.

Settle and Sustain

Jefferson stabilized a position for a team in desperate need with a level of consistency that she has not seen since her rookie season. She averages the most minutes per game of her career at 30.8 as well as the most points per game at 14.8. If she sustains close to this level of play with the Lynx, she’ll be posting career bests in a number of categories.

For the Lynx, the difference in the team’s offensive rating while Jefferson is on the court (106.0) vs off the court (91.3), is far more telling. The only player with a greater effect is McBride. The team Offensive Rating prior to Jefferson’s arrival was a dismal 88.9 through their 0-3 start.

While a record of 2-6 is far from ideal, it is not far from their 2021 record of 3-5. And 2 of 2021’s playoff teams also began with 2-6 records, the Dallas Wings and eventual champions Chicago Sky. So the 2022 Lynx are far from being in panic mode. And it may all come down to the revival of Moriah Jefferson.

About Corbitt Harrell

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