The Lynx Load Up On Shooters For An Explosive 2024 Season

Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Cheryl Reeve entered the press conference with a look of levity and determination. She made references to the Minnesota Lynx’s improvement as communicators and her desire for them to start “hunting shots.”

Then she received a question about the Lynx’s expectations in 2024.

“We do have high expectations,” Reeve responded. “We feel like the additions we made in free agency, via trade and the draft, we feel a little deeper.”

After Reeve left the podium, player after player followed, in total, 15 players all echoing similar messages as Reeve. With that, a few key talking points emerged. First, this team expects to build on a surprise playoff run last season. After staying 0-6, the team rallied to finish 19-22, good for third in the Western Conference. Second, the Lynx will expect their offseason additions and draft picks to help unlock a handcuffed offense by giving them more options and shooting to spread the floor.

The Lynx ranked eighth in offensive rating last year at 99.8. While there were myriad reasons why the offense was average at best, their three-point shooting seemed to be a point of emphasis for Reeve. She wants the Lynx to be ranked “third or fourth” in the WNBA. Last year, the Lynx shot just 32.5% from three and ranked 11 out of the league’s 12 teams. Reeve stressed the importance of the new additions to the team in creating more three-point opportunities.

The Lynx’s rookies also reflect that increased focus on three-point shooting. First-round pick Alissa Pili is willing to shoot volume from deep, averaging 4.1 three-point attempts per game and making them at a 40.4% clip. Pili should also add much-needed space and firepower to Minnesota’s rotation.

Minnesota’s second-round draft pick Kiki Jefferson enters the league with a proven ability to shoot the ball. She made 34.9% from three on 2.4 attempts per game in her single season with Louisville. Jefferson likely will take some time to develop before getting consistent minutes. However, by drafting Pili and Jefferson, the Lynx tacitly acknowledged that they must shoot better from three to compete.

Free agent additions Alanna Smith and Courtney Williams should bolster the three-point percentages. Smith shot a career-high 29.4% from distance as a forward and should continue to improve her percentage from deep. She also took a career-high 2.7 attempts per game with Chicago.

At first glance, 29.4% from three may not seem like a marked improvement. But Smith would have ranked fifth on the Lynx among players who played over 15 minutes per game. Her ability to play center will also help create space for other players to attack.

Williams will also add to the Lynx’s offensive firepower. Williams shot 44.3% for Chicago last season from three on 2.7 attempts per game. She will also be a much-needed floor general to Minnesota’s backcourt. Williams also brings toughness and leadership to the Lynx and will open up the offense.

One key reason the Lynx struggled offensively in 2023 was their lack of a true point guard. While Lindsey Allen performed admirably in her attempts to change positions, averaging a career-high 4.5 assists, she also saw her turnovers climb to a career-high of 1.3 per game, resulting in a middle-of-the-road 3.46 assist-to-turnover (A/TO) ratio.

Diamond Moore had a standout rookie campaign but struggled with the lead ball handler role, evidenced by her 1.08 A/TO ratio. Therefore, the addition of Williams proved she should bring stability to the position and allow the Lynx to have consistent minutes with a proven playmaker and former All-Star.

The Lynx added shooters in the offseason, suggesting they will have a more open, free-flowing offense that spaces the floor. It could be something Williams thrives in with her knack for picking apart defenses in the pick-and-roll.

With Williams playing the primary point guard role, it also suggests that the rest of the roster can fall back into their more natural positions and have to focus less on playmaking and the task of keeping teammates involved. Lynx star Napheesa Collier may have put it best: “As much as you try to do those things, especially as a post player, you just need a guard to be doing that, especially a point guard.”

Lynx seemingly addressed their shooting, one of the major flaws from the 2023 season. Therefore, optimism abounds that they can build on their playoff run. Questions remain about Lynx’s defense and how the team will gel. However, they have clear expectations to compete at a high level this season.

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Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

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