After kicking off the 2019 WNBA season winning four of their first five games and jumping to the top of the league standings, the Minnesota Lynx have hit a snag as of late.
Following a late-game collapse resulting in a loss at home to the Las Vegas Aces on Sunday night in Minneapolis, the Lynx enter the week having lost four straight games including three in a row at home.
With the loss on Sunday, Minnesota dropped to 4-5 overall and have gone from being in the top two in the WNBA standings to now sitting as the No. 8 seed while trailing the first-place Connecticut Sun by four games.
While fighting through some road bumps when it comes to finishing off games so far this season, the Lynx will look to get back on track when they host the New York Liberty on Saturday at Target Center.
While we enter the new week, let’s answer some of the questions you have surrounding the Lynx:
What is the ceiling for Collier? Is she a great role player? Who is the player in league (past or present) her game is most like.
— EB (@ericboogaard) June 17, 2019
Minnesota’s rookie wing Napheesa Collier has gotten off to a nice start to her first season in the WNBA so far.
In nine games, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft out of Connecticut has averaged 11.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks in 31.7 minutes per game this season for the Lynx. She is shooting 45.3 percent from the field and 82.8 percent from the free-throw line.
When looking at Collier and evaluating her potential, it’s hard not to be intrigued by her skillset and the thought of her eventually turning into a cornerstone player for Minnesota moving forward into the future.
Collier is the type of player that can be moved around at a few different positions and can hurt opponents from anywhere on the floor. She has the ability to stretch the floor and hit jumpshots from any range, while also having the ability to go to work in the paint and get to the hoop.
The fact that she has transitioned nicely from college to the professional level so far is a very encouraging sign for the Lynx and something they desperately needed coming into a season such as this one with many new faces.
When it comes to her ceiling, I think we might eventually look back at the 2019 draft and view Collier as somewhat of a steal for Minnesota at the No. 6 pick. She certainly has the ability to be much more than just a role player and will likely be a key building block for the Lynx franchise moving forward.
One thing that we will need to see out of Collier moving forward is consistency, an issue you typically see in young players, especially early on in their careers. She has displayed some impressive stretches on both ends of the floor, but having the ability to do that night-in and night-out will be crucial for Minnesota.
One player that I personally think Collier’s game resembles is that of Lynx forward Maya Moore. Much like Moore, Collier has the ability to hurt teams from anywhere on the court and can run the floor really well. She has also been really solid on the defensive side of the ball, feeding well into that Cheryl Reeve style of play.
Overall, the ceiling is high for Collier in terms of where she could go throughout her WNBA career. We’ve certainly seen some nice flashes out of the rookie and I think we’ll continue to see more consistent play out of her as she continues to get acclimated to the league.
It’s clear this team is struggling to find finishers. Without Maya and Whay, this team doesn’t have a strong identity. Losing Shepard for the season was tough. What needs to happen in order for them to take the next steps toward another championship?
— Di 📚👠👜💄 (@DiMurphyMN) June 17, 2019
One of the biggest storylines heading into the season was obviously the fact that Minnesota will be without multiple All-Star players with the absences of Moore, Lindsay Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson.
Along with the fact that Seimone Augustus has been out for the start of the season while trying to battle back from knee surgery, the Lynx have struggled in trying to establish that identity and having a go-to finisher and playmaker at the end of games.
As a result of that, we’ve seen Minnesota drop four straight games all by six points or fewer. Reeve mentioned following Sunday’s loss to Las Vegas that, with the way the Lynx have been performing in crunch time as of late, they are going to need to start building sizable leads at the end of games if they want to come away with a win.
First of all, we knew it was going to take some time for the Lynx to try and find a new identity without having four All-Star and Hall of Fame-caliber players in the starting lineup. It’s tough for any team to go through that kind of turnover and not experience some road bumps.
It is still apparent that the team is still searching for that identity at the quarter mark of the regular season.
One player that Minnesota has focused on going through when things have gotten tough in the past has been Sylvia Fowles, who is the lone starter remaining from a season ago in the Lynx starting lineup.
If Minnesota wants to continue to establish a new identity and try to turn things around, I think it will need to start with Fowles and working the offense through her. Also getting Augustus back this season will help in opening things up for Fowles in the paint and will give Minnesota another finisher and player to go to late in games.
When it comes to the next steps in the Lynx trying to return to a championship-caliber team, I think the only answer is that it will take some time given the fact they have a fairly new and young roster this season. Which I get is an answer many Lynx fans don’t like to hear.
As Reeve admitted post-game on Sunday, this team is still learning how to finish off games and how to win consistently right now. One way of learning how to do those two things is to go through some tough times like we are seeing currently.
Although there are some faces absent this year, this Lynx team is still talented and you’d imagine we’ll start seeing these late game losses turn into victories sooner rather than later.
Submit Your Lynx Mailbag Questions
Our Mitchell Hansen will continue to publish Lynx mailbag’s every other Monday throughout the course of the 2019 WNBA season here at Zone Coverage.
Have a question surrounding the Lynx that you would like answered? Submit them by tweeting at him @M_Hansen13! The next Lynx mailbag will be on Monday, July 1.