Over the halfway point in the 2020 WNBA season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., the Minnesota Lynx have continued to remain near the top of the pack in the league going into the home stretch of the year.
We’re nearing the end of the month of August, and the Lynx have been perhaps the biggest surprise of the season so far, especially considering they have the youngest roster in the WNBA.
In the last 10 games, Minnesota has a record of 7-3. They now sit 9-4 more than halfway through the 22-game regular season. Sunday afternoon’s disappointing loss to the struggling Atlanta Dream put an end to the Lynx’s three-game winning streak.
The Lynx have dropped a bit in the league standings, but they remain right in the thick of things near the top of the of the WNBA. Minnesota enters the new week sitting in fifth place in the standings, but trail the first-place Seattle Storm (11-3) by just a game and a half.
This upcoming week they will face off against the Los Angeles Sparks on Wednesday, Atlanta on Friday and the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday.
Before the Lynx kick off yet another week in the bubble, and aim to remain at the top of the league standings heading towards the postseason, let’s answer some questions readers submitted about Minnesota and the WNBA in general.
JP: With Sims working here way back and Lexie currently struggling, do you see a time when Lynx start Dangerfield and Sims and have Banham and Lexie off the bench?
The guard position and rotation has been really interesting for Minnesota so far this season. Coming into the year, the Lynx had Shenise Johnson and Lexie Brown as the two starting guards, but early-season injuries to both of them shifted the rotation a bit and has resulted in some other players stepping up.
Most notably, rookie Crystal Dangerfield has taken over the starting point guard role and has thrived in that spot while making a very strong case for Rookie of the Year. She will likely hold onto that starting job as long as her play continues the way it has of late.
Outside of that trio, you also have Rachel Banham and Odyssey Sims to throw into the mix. Sims arrived with the team a few weeks ago and it’s clear she still has a way to go before she gets an increased minute load in the rotation.
When Sims gets back to game shape and is ready for a larger role, it will be interesting to see what Cheryl Reeve does with her. Sims jumped into a starting spot in her first season in Minnesota in 2019 and was a huge boost both offensively and defensively in her first All-Star season.
Brown has struggled to some extent, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dangerfield and Sims take over those two starting roles at some point here at the end of the regular season — although it should be noted that Brown took a step in the right direction in Sunday’s loss against Atlanta. If Dangerfield and Sims take over as starters, it would mean the Lynx would have a nice second unit group of Brown, Banham and Johnson coming off the bench. That would be some solid depth within a position that was in question during the offseason.
Dangerfield will continue to get a large amount of playing time at the point guard spot, given her play lately. She appears to continue to gain confidence with every game. The key for Sims, however, is how fast she will be able to return to her 2019 form.
Deb: What do you think are realistic goals for the Lynx for the rest of the regular season and in the playoffs?
Coming into the 2020 season, I predicted that the Lynx would finish similar to what they did in 2019, basically a middle of the pack squad floating around the .500 mark that would reach the postseason once again.
My thought was that given this team is still young and working on fully establishing a clear identity, this unusual season in the bubble — with perhaps less preparation going in compared to a normal offseason — would result in the young Minnesota squad having an up and down year.
So far during the regular season, though, that hasn’t really been the case. The Lynx have surprised me and many others around the league with their play through the first half of the summer. They appear to be a team that could finish in the top five in the WNBA standings when the postseason arrives.
Given the point we are currently at in the year, a realistic goal for Minnesota would be to claim a top-4 or 5 spot in the standings. If Sylvia Fowles can get back on the court sooner than later and Sims continues to work back to the player we saw in 2019, that would make that goal even more obtainable for the Lynx.
When it comes to the postseason, Minnesota has exited the playoffs in the opening round the last two years, most recently to Seattle in 2019.
This season, depending on where exactly Minnesota finishes up and what seed it ultimately grabs for the postseason, the Lynx could potentially reach the second round of the playoffs and could even go as far as the semifinal round.
Minnesota has surprised a lot of people already this season, so you never know what could happen the rest of the way. Then consider that every team is playing in a neutral site in Florida, and anything can happen.
That will do it for this week’s Lynx mailbag. As always, thanks for submitting your questions and for reading. Make sure to check back here at Zone Coverage for coverage of the 2020 WNBA season.
SUBMIT YOUR LYNX MAILBAG QUESTIONS
Our Mitchell Hansen will continue to publish Lynx mailbags throughout the course of the 2020 WNBA season here at Zone Coverage.
Have any questions surrounding the Lynx or the WNBA? Submit them by tweeting at him at @M_Hansen13 and he will answer your questions in the next mailbag.