(image credit: screenshot from WNBA on YouTube)

When the Minnesota Lynx completed a trade with the Los Angeles Sparks this offseason to bring guard Odyssey Sims to her former bitter rival in exchange for young guard Alexis Jones, she wasn’t really sure what kind of role she would take on in Minnesota.

Many thought Sims would begin her time with the Lynx in a similar role that she played while in Los Angeles for two seasons — coming off the bench and providing a nice lift among the second unit in the rotation.

After Minnesota saw early-season injuries to starting guard Seimone Augustus and newly-added wing Karima Christmas-Kelly, Sims quickly found her role with the Lynx expanding before the 2019 season really kicked off.

As we already near the midway point in the regular season, Sims has certainly stepped up to the challenge and helped lift her new team this summer.

“This season is big for me just to get back on my feet and get back to the player I was when I first got into the league. (Cheryl Reeve) has talked to me and has told me what she wants, what she expects from me in my role,” Sims said back at the beginning of the season. “Just knowing I have a coach that is going to let me play free and just do what I do best and score.

“With the trade, I feel like I got an opportunity just to get back to how I was playing my rookie year and my second year, just to play freely.”

So far this year, Sims is off to one of the best starts in a season of her career since she averaged a career-high 16.7 points in her rookie campaign with Tulsa in 2014.

Through 14 games entering Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Sky, Sims is averaging 16.2 points (sixth in the WNBA), 5.6 assists (fifth in the WNBA), 3.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals (14th in the WNBA) in 33 minutes (third-most in the league) per game.

While leading the Lynx in minutes per game, Sims currently ranks first on the team in points per game, first in assists, second in steals and fifth in rebounds. She also ranks third in free throw percentage (83.1 percent), fifth in three-point percentage (27.9 percent) and sixth in field goal percentage (41.7 percent).

Since the start of the year, that leadership on the offensive side of the floor, paired with her already-stellar defensive abilities, is something Minnesota has desperately needed to go alongside the play of Sylvia Fowles in the post.

“We need her to score, that’s huge. I told her the first day and I think her eyes got big. I said, ‘I’m not going to tell you that you took a bad shot. Take shots and go be you,’” Reeve, the Lynx head coach and general manager said earlier in the year. “I told her that her light is more than green. I want her to know that she is a huge part of our identity by putting the ball in the hole. We need that help.”

In her last five games, four of which Minnesota has won, Sims has taken her game to the next level.

During that span, she has averaged 21 points, seven assists, three rebounds and 1.6 steals per game, carrying an average plus/minus of plus-seven for the Lynx.

One big goal for Sims entering her sixth year in the WNBA was to get back to being the player she was early on in her professional career while experiencing a comfortable environment wherever she is at.

“I walk in here with pride and I come to work every day happy. I think this is the happiest I’ve been since I’ve been in the league,” Sims said shortly after she arrived in Minnesota. “I just feel so much love here. I’m just happy to be a part of this organization and it definitely doesn’t feel awkward. Every time I put on a Lynx jersey I smile, and I’ve been smiling from ear to ear since I got to Minnesota.”

So far this year, it’s clear that Sims continues to feel more and more comfortable in her expanded role for her new team in Minnesota.

As Minnesota continues to try and climb the WNBA standings and gears up to hopefully make some noise in the second half of the regular season, the level of play they have seen out of Sims is something they are going to need more of moving forward.

Next Up: The Lynx return to action on Wednesday when they travel to take on the Chicago Sky at 8 p.m. at Wintrust Arena. The game will be aired on CBS Sports Network and can be heard locally on 106.1 FM.

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