September 10, 2020
Dantas, Lynx solidify future together
Dantas signed a two-year, fully protected contract extension with the Lynx on Wednesday
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PALMETTO, FL – AUGUST 28: Damiris Dantas #12 of the Minnesota Lynx drives to the basket against the Atlanta Dream on August 28, 2020, at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via NBA Content Network
Damiris Dantas’ future was a major talking point of the Minnesota Lynx’s 2019 end-of-season press conference.
“I told Damiris her exit interview was the most exciting and most important one that we were having,” said Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve at the team’s end-of-the-season press conference. “She’s just shown us glimpses of what she can be.”
After one more regular season with the Lynx, Reeve’s excitement for Dantas’ growth has materialized into a multi-year contract to keep the 6’3, 27-year-old forward in Minnesota.
The Lynx announced Dantas’ extension on Thursday afternoon, shortly before Howard Megdal reported the details of Dantas’ multi-year extension.
“That was something really important to us that we wanted to go into the offseason having her under contract,” Reeve said. “I thought it was big for us. It’s something we both wanted in terms of the communication around it. When I say it was an easy one, I don’t mean to say that we’d take it for granted. It’s more of we understand that it’s a really good match here, both sides. Those contract negotiations, when you’re both wanting the same thing, it goes pretty well.”
Dantas began her WNBA career in Minnesota in 2014 after being selected 12th overall by the Lynx in the 2012 draft. She was packaged in the deal that brought Sylvia Fowles to Minnesota in 2015 but returned to Minnesota in February 2019’s free agency period.
Committing to Dantas for two more years should have been a no-brainer for Minnesota given the growth she’s shown since returning to the team she began her WNBA career with.
In 2019, Dantas served as the Lynx’s starting power forward in all 26 games she played in and recorded career-highs in minutes (25.6), points (9.2), and assists (3.2) per game. She has proven to be a sufficient stretch-4 with her team-high 39.3% 3-point percentage, yet, her ability to defend an array of the league’s best players while still committing to help side defense may have been her most valuable on-court contribution to the Lynx.
One year later, her importance to Minnesota’s future has become even more apparent.
Not only is Dantas averaging career-highs in points (12.8) and rebounds (6.0) — her fouls per game are also slightly down this season — in 2020, she’s also largely responsible for why Minnesota has found success despite Sylvia Fowles’ sidelining calf injury.
Dantas is connecting on a team-high 43% of the 4.0 3-point attempts she takes per game and is therefore forcing opposing bigs to move out of the paint to defend her, which has created ample opportunities for teammate Napheesa Collier.
Collier has made 119 total field goals this season, 73 of which have been assisted. Dantas has accounted for 22 of Collier’s 73 assisted shots. No other Lynx player has assisted more than 13 of Collier’s makes. Having Dantas around should further aid Collier’s process of becoming one of the best players in the league.
Breakdown of Collier’s assisted shots via WNBA.com
Dantas’ interior offensive game isn’t quite as dominant as the threat she provides on the perimeter, but she has improved her accuracy in the restricted area where she’s shooting 71.8% this season (28-for-39 after 20 games) opposed to last year’s 56.8% (25-for-44 after 26 games).
Dantas is still polishing her interior touch, but her progression is notable.
Damiris Dantas’ 2019 interior shooting stats, per WNBA.com
Damiris Dantas’ 2020 interior shooting stats (through 20 games), per WNBA.com
Defensively, Dantas has shared the role of rim protector with Collier during Fowles’ absence. That hasn’t been an easy task, of course, and the Lynx’s defense has been far from perfect without Fowles. But without Dantas’ help anchoring the defense in Fowles’ absence, it’s likely the Lynx would be focusing on the upcoming free agency period come mid-September rather than making a run in the playoffs.
“Damiris is such a great teammate — ask anyone that’s ever been around her,” Reeve said. “Lindsay Whalen, (Dantas) was one of her favorite players in 2014 to play with on the court. And I think that the kind of nice thing about Damiris is when Syl left or when Syl was out, her recognition of what needed to happen to fill … Syl means so much to her, and we talked about wanting to hold the fort down for Syl. Damiris was a big part of that, and I know she feels really good about that. It’s been her play that’s helped us position ourselves to possibly have the four seed.”