Most players who reach the age of 35 are usually declining into the final years of their career. But that hasn’t been the case for Sylvia Fowles, who will turn 36 in October. She is in her 14th season in the WNBA and seventh year with the Minnesota Lynx. However, not only has she avoided any decline this season, but she is off to one of her best starts ever.
“I pick and choose my battles wisely, and that’s why I’ve been so successful this year,” Fowles said. “I try to post up as much as possible, but at the same time not break up the groove that we have and them not trying to throw the ball in and make everything slow. I’d rather for them to just play, and then I get in where I fit in.”
Fowles missed a majority of last season with injuries. She only logged seven games a year ago, and her main objective was just to stay healthy for the entire season. The former league MVP, two-time WNBA Champion, three-time Defensive Player of the Year, and six-time All-Star was also looking to prove that she should still be considered one of the best post players in the WNBA.
The veteran center has done just that, and she is off to a career-best year so far.
“She’s so dominant, and she’s dominant on both sides,” Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said. “And the way she does it, she’s absolutely underrated.”
Following Thursday night’s game against the Dallas Wings, Fowles has played in all 11 games for the Lynx this season. She has averaged 16.3 points (most since 2018), 9.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists (most since 2018), and is shooting a WNBA-best 64% from the field (best mark since 2017). Fowles has also been as dominant on the defensive side of the ball, leading the WNBA with 2.5 steals per game while sitting in the top 10 in blocks with 1.3.
Fowles hasn’t just led Minnesota on the floor this season. She has continued to be the leader and veteran presence off the court.
“When she got here in 2015, she was playing with Lindsay (Whalen), Seimone (Augustus), Maya (Moore), and Rebekkah (Brunson),” Reeve said. “She didn’t have to shoulder the load at all time; it was a shared situation. Now she’s been shouldering it since the band broke up. … That’s what I’ve been impressed with, that she’s been able to do it, wants to do it, and has figured out different ways to do it. She’s the bridge, no doubt about it, between the two teams. She is the reason why we’re still hanging on and still being successful as a franchise post those years that are referred to as a dynasty.”
When many thought she would be slowing down now in the latter years of her playing career, Fowles has done the exact opposite on both sides of the floor. Now she is enjoying one of the best starts of her Hall of Fame-caliber career.
“She’s so consistently good that it’s not even a thought. It’s not like she has highs and lows,” Napheesa Collier said. “I think people are taking that for granted. She came out with a chip on her shoulder. … She’s been amazing.”