One player that many did not foresee putting on a Minnesota Lynx jersey during her career was Odyssey Sims.
Since she broke into the league in 2014, and more specifically over the past few seasons with the Los Angeles Sparks, Sims had established a rivalry with Minnesota — most notably with the now-retired point guard Lindsay Whalen — that made for an entertaining storyline whenever she faced off against the Lynx.
But in the offseason, Minnesota made a move to go out and acquire the sixth-year guard from Los Angeles in exchange for young guard Alexis Jones to help provide a boost to the Lynx second unit.
And if her play in the preseason is any indication of how her time in Minnesota is going to go this summer and beyond, the trade may already be paying off for the Lynx.
“Things are going great right now,” Sims said during Lynx media day. “Just the group that we have is special. I think this year is going to be a fun and exciting year and we’re all just anxious for the season to start.”
Sims wrapped up postseason play for Minnesota looking impressive in the early stages of her time with her new team.
In Sunday’s win over the Las Vegas Aces in the Lynx preseason finale, Sims sparked a second-half comeback by scoring 17 of her team-best 25 points in the second half. She finished the game with 25 points, four rebounds, four assists, three steals and tied the preseason franchise record with five 3s in 25 minutes off the bench.
The guard finished the preseason slate averaging 22.5 points, 5.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals in roughly 27 minutes per game.
“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,’” Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve told reporters. “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.”
That kind of production will be key for Minnesota this season as it has looked for a solid, consistent threat off the bench for the past few years.
“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. (Reeve) has talked to me and has told me what she wants, what she expects from me in my role,” Sims said. “Just knowing I have a coach that is going to let me play free and just do what I do best and score. I’m definitely looking forward to that.
“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.”
Prior to arriving in Minnesota, Sims broke into the league in 2014 and spent two years with the Tulsa Shock and one with the Dallas Wings before heading to Los Angeles to play two years for the Sparks. A season ago, the 5-foot-8 guard averaged 8.2 points, 2.8 assists, 2.5 rebounds and shot 38.8 percent from the field with the Sparks.
“She’s so physically tough and I’m seeing it up close and personal right now,” Reeve said. “I can’t tell you how big of a get that was for us. The timing of it, and that’s what I told Odyssey, as our identity is changing, for her to be a part of that. I do well with physically tough people that will put their body on the line to do things that matter and winning possessions. Odyssey does that, she plays so darn hard. We want her to become more efficient in terms of her ability to put the ball in the hole.
“The next phase of her career, that’s going to be her prime, so we should get the very best of Odyssey. I like her a lot, that was a huge addition for us.”
Along with her ability to boost things offensively for Minnesota this season, Sims enjoys the challenges in helping her team on the defensive end of the floor and shutting down her opponent each night.
“I take pride in my defense, Cheryl knows that. I hate getting beat, I hate having a post player help me. My assignment is my assignment, so I really just try to give it my all on the defensive end,” Sims said. “On offense, I know Cheryl has plays for me and the ball is going to come back to me. … I’m just trying to improve as a player and add things to my game and be a craftier player than I already am.”
Being on the other side of the Lynx-Sparks rivalry prior to 2019, Sims said she’s learned how special the Minnesota organization is. Something she didn’t necessarily expect coming in.
“They know how to win,” Sims said of Minnesota. “I didn’t realize that until I got here. This team has four championships and it’s easy to say, ‘Oh, they just win every other year and this,’ but until you’re here and in practice and actually see for yourself and now that I’m a part of this organization you see why. They are very professional.
“I have teammates on me to say, ‘Hey, change your body language, fix your face or make sure you do this before a timeout. Everyone is very, very supportive of each other and that’s what I love most about this team. It’s not about can you go score 30 (points) this game, it could be a Seimone night, it could be a Syl night, and that’s what is going to be most dangerous with this team moving forward.
“We are going to continue to get better and we are going to make sure we are correcting the small things. We won’t be perfect, we are going to have our ups and downs this season, but we’re ready for the first game.”
Yes, the preseason is the preseason and you have to take players’ performances with a grain of salt. But right out of the gate, the addition of Sims has already appeared to be a good one for Minnesota; one that will provide it with a much-needed boost from the second unit this summer.
The Lynx are glad to have Sims aboard this season, and the guard is looking forward to her time in Minnesota as well.
“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. “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.
“Moving forward, I’m just looking forward to my next couple of years here and to see my progression and to what I can bring to this team to try and win another championship.”