Lynx Mailbag: Let the (Real) Games Begin

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most anticipated finales in recent memory took place on Sunday.

Months of work spanning from the previous season leading up to this point, ending up providing fans with an entertaining ending while putting a bow on the portion of the season.

Oh, you thought I was talking about the Game of Thrones? I was actually referring to the Minnesota Lynx preseason finale in Las Vegas.

The Lynx wrapped up the preseason schedule against the Aces on Sunday with a comeback victory behind newly acquired Odyssey Sims (which is still weird to type), finishing the preseason slate with a perfect 3-0 record.

With the “real games” just around the corner with the regular season officially kicking off for Minnesota on Saturday against Chicago at Target Center, let’s get into some questions you have heading into the 2019 WNBA season.

Nancy Dunlavy: What is the status of the number of players that need to be cut before the regular season starts? How do (Cecilia Zandalasini) and (Temi Fagbenle) fit into the numbers?

Entering Monday, the Lynx currently hold a total of 15 players on their roster. This week, we will find out who will make the regular-season roster, with final roster cuts needing to be made by Thursday.

The list includes the 14 players that suited up for Sunday’s preseason finale in Las Vegas as well as Cecilia Zandalasini, who has yet to report to Minnesota while wrapping up overseas commitments.

In past years, the Lynx have entered the regular season with 11 of their 12 roster spots filled, allowing them the flexibility to add a piece throughout the course of the year if needed.

This season, it will likely be the same, although Minnesota head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said during training camp that the organization could even carry a full 12 players heading into the regular season this year.

I would imagine that Zandalasini is a near lock to make the squad this summer. Her ability to boost the Lynx on the offensive end, especially as a deep threat, is an appealing aspect to add to the mix of personnel within the rotation.

It’s also hard to see Fagbenle not making the team this year, especially with how her play continuously improved as the year went along in 2018. She provides a nice energy spark off the bench with her hustle and effort plays that extend offensive possessions and has served as a nice backup option behind Sylvia Fowles.

As far as how I think the breakdown of the roster will look, I get into that more in Ben’s question below.

As I mentioned above, we will officially find out how the Lynx roster will look like for the regular season schedule this week when the final roster cuts are announced.

With the deadline to make those cuts taking place on Thursday, we could find out any day who Minnesota will move forward with throughout the summer.

Sunday’s preseason finale in Las Vegas was one of the final preparations before the actual games begin this weekend, and the minute distributions in that game were telling enough with who the Lynx might roll with this year.

Once again, Minnesota went with Danielle Robinson, Seimone Augustus, Karima Christmas-Kelly, Damiris Dantas and Fowles in its starting five. That starting core is likely what we’ll see throughout the course of the summer.

Off the bench, Reeve played Sims, Lexie Brown and rookies Jessica Shepard and Napheesa Collier at least 14 or more minutes in the preseason finale. Erlana Larkins and Fagbenle each saw just under 10 minutes of action in the game.

The bottom three players, which is likely the number of players Minnesota will cut prior to the start of the year, were Jillian Alleyne, Kenisha Bell and Shao Ting. All three played about two minutes at the end of Sunday’s game.

With Zandalasini coming back and the subtractions of Alleyne, Bell and Ting, that would put the Lynx at 12 players heading into the regular season.

One other player to keep in mind in all of this is Rebekkah Brunson — who will miss at least the start of the year while still battling back from a concussion suffered last season — and how she could potentially fit back in the mix. You would think either Larkins or Fagbenle would be one of the players Minnesota looks to move on from when, or if, Brunson returns.

Here’s how I think the roster will look heading into the start of the regular season:

Nancy Dunlavy: I always enjoy learning about Lynx players outside of basketball. What are their hobbies, future career plans, favorite things about MN life, etc.?

One of the best things about covering this Lynx team every summer is the type of personalities that are on the roster.

From Augustus to Fowles to Robinson to coach Reeve and beyond, there is always a unique storyline with this team and its personnel that doesn’t include what they do on the basketball court.

In past seasons, the stories consisting of who the players and coaches are outside of basketball got somewhat repetitive due to the consistency of personnel on the roster. But this year, it feels a little bit different solely due to the amount of roster turnover from last season.

There are plenty of newcomers, from Christmas-Kelly to Sims to Brown and the rookies Shepard and Collier, so it should be a fun season of having the opportunity to tell you all some of those stories throughout the course of the year.

As the season continues to move along this summer, make sure to continue to check back here at Zone Coverage to find some of those unique stories about not only how the Lynx are doing on the court, but what they are doing and who they are off the court as well.

That’ll do it for this week’s Lynx mailbag. Thanks for all of the questions and make sure to keep sending those questions in for the next mailbag on Monday, June 3.

Enjoy the start of the WNBA regular season, Lynx fans. Let the (real) games begin.

Submit Your Lynx Mailbag Questions

Our Mitchell Hansen will be starting up a Lynx mailbag that will be published 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, June 3.

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