The Minnesota Lynx officially confirmed what many feared when rookie forward Jessica Shepard went down with a non-contact knee injury on Saturday afternoon at Target Center.
In a statement released by the organization Sunday afternoon, the Lynx announced that Shepard has a torn ACL in her right knee and will have surgery at a to-be-determined date.
The injury, suffered in the second half of Saturday’s loss to the Los Angeles Sparks, will sideline Shepard for the remainder of the 2019 WNBA season.
The injury obviously comes as a big blow to both Minnesota and the promising young rookie, who was off to a fast start in her first professional season after being selected in the second round of the 2019 WNBA Draft.
Leading up to her injury, the No. 16 overall pick out of Notre Dame was averaging 4.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 18.7 minutes per game off the bench.
Since the start of the season, Shepard has provided the Lynx with a nice spark off the bench within the second unit.
Although her stats haven’t necessarily been eye-popping up to the point of her injury, her impact on the floor was apparent through endless hustle plays, energy and a whatever-it-takes mentality.
The injury to Shepard will further complicate things within the Minnesota rotation, specifically at the wing position, until it gets its entire roster back and healthy this season.
Seimone Augustus is already out indefinitely for the Lynx with a knee injury that required surgery at the beginning of the regular season and Karima Christmas-Kelly has only played in one game thus far for Minnesota after missing time with a knee injury and a personal manner.
The Lynx are also waiting for the return of wing Cecilia Zandalasini, who is still wrapping up her overseas commitments before making her way back to Minnesota and the WNBA this summer.
When all of those players return, the Lynx will be able to better fill out their rotation and spread their players among the starting and bench units. But until then, they will continue to run thin at the position, and the news of Shepard missing the rest of the year throws another wrench into that. It will be a team effort to fill the void left by the rookie.
Lexie Brown, who has been playing well of late, will be required to step up even more and continue to provide Minnesota with much-needed offense off the bench. We could also see players such as Stephanie Talbot and Alaina Coates, two players the team traded for right before the start of the season, gain some more time off the bench.
How the Lynx move forward from this point is yet to be seen. But although her stats weren’t spectacular through the first few weeks of the regular season, Shepard’s absence will certainly be missed within Minnesota’s lineup the rest of the summer.