April 13, 2023 

How the Lynx remade their roster, beginning with Diamond Miller, in the 2023 WNBA Draft

Minnesota adds five intriguing prospects with an eye towards this year's training camp and beyond

The 2023 WNBA season marks the 25th season for the Minnesota Lynx. To kick off the festivities in celebration of the franchise’s silver anniversary, the team spent five weeks unveiling its ‘All-25 Team.’ Starting with players 25-21 on March 6, the Lynx announced the All-25 team five players at a time, one week at a time, culminating in the unveiling of the five best players in franchise history on April 3. The exact members of that final five made for possibly the least surprising announcement in WNBA history.  

Continue reading with a subscription to The Next

Get unlimited access to women’s basketball coverage and help support our hardworking staff of writers, editors, and photographers by subscribing today.

Join today

Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson, Sylvia Fowles, Maya Moore, and Lindsay Whalen (listed in alphabetical order in the official announcement) are the five best players in Minnesota Lynx history. Fans can debate where exactly each member of the quintuplet of Lynx immortals falls on their own top five lists, but the inclusion of all five of them is undeniable.

Another undeniable and admittedly oft-repeated theme of Minnesota’s offseason is the dawning of a new era without any of those sure-fire five Hall of Famers on the roster — a fact that hasn’t applied to any Lynx roster since the team selected Augustus with the first pick of the 2006 WNBA Draft, which was 6,217 days ago. 

The Next, a 24/7/365 women’s basketball newsroom

The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited and photographed by our young, diverse staff and dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives and projections about the game we love.

Transitioning away from an era marked by dynasties and towards a new one with dynastic ambition is a new challenge in Minnesota, but is one President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Cheryl Reeve is looking forward to.

“It is (a different challenge) and I’m excited about that,” Reeve said to the media on Apr. 7, ahead of Monday’s draft. “In 2018, that was really draining. Really, really draining. The lift I call it, the heavy lift we’ve done since 2018 to do what we’ve done, it’s really unheard of. To go from those types of players and to continue to maintain a level of success of competing. In 2019 we finished the same as the 2018 did, we were sixth. In 2020, we were fourth and in the semifinals of the playoffs. In 2021, we were third. That’s unheard of to be able to do that. So now I’m challenged even more as Syl’s gone. This new era, to figure out what the best path is to be successful.”

An undeniably significant step on that path took place on Monday in the form of the 2023 WNBA Draft. Minnesota held five picks in total, most notably the second pick of the night, the richest draft chip Reeve and the Lynx have held since they selected Moore No. 1 overall in 2011.

Reeve and the Lynx used the pick to add Maryland’s Diamond Miller, one of college basketball’s most dangerous players in transition, to help Minnesota’s bigger picture transition project. Miller fits the profile of a player who can help the Lynx compete in the short-term and maintain an eye towards achieving sustained success in the future. The former Terrapin is a 6’3 uber-athletic wing who can guard several positions, use her speed and power to flip the court in the transition game, and is lethal at the rim. 

“Diamond Miller has a tremendous work ethic by all accounts,” Reeve said. “That’s the starting place. If you have that, and if a player will listen, you have a great opportunity to improve and so that appears to be the case for Diamond. We were looking for length, athleticism. I think her transition game was really appealing to us. She’s an active defender. She certainly has some things to learn defensively in terms of the pro game, but a lot of them do.

“Those were the things that appealed to us and ultimately how we landed on Diamond Miller.”

Miller herself echoed many of her new coach’s sentiments when meeting with the media after being announced as the No. 2 pick in the draft.

“I think I’m just never satisfied,” Miller said. “Even now, I know I have so much more to develop. The player you see right now or the last game I played, I’m not going to be in another two years. I’m just constantly trying to develop and be a sponge to the game and constantly find new things.”

Miller’s tape is impressive and she has a resume to match. At Maryland she overcame knee injuries and one massive roster overhaul to become one of the game’s brightest stars and lead the Terps all the way to the Elite Eight.

“(Adapting) will be familiar to her,” Reeve said. “It wasn’t that long ago that she kinda understood maybe how to navigate bringing a group together. When I did talk with her about that, she felt like she was a voice to say, ‘hey let’s keep trusting what the coaches are telling us, let’s stick together.’ So she really immersed herself into that role and was no question a reason why they were able to have so much change. She was the mainstay and she brought that team along with her.”

If Miller is feeling any pressure with being the second overall pick in the draft and heading to organization transitioning away from some of the best players who ever stepped on a WNBA court, then she isn’t showing it.

Lynx fans celebrate the selection of Diamond Miller at the team’s draft party at Target Center in Minneapolis (Photo Credit: John McClellan)

“My expectation is just to be Diamond Miller every time I step on the court and to continue to be passionate and love the game the way I always did when I was a little kid,” Miller said. “That is what I want to do.”

After drafting Miller the Lynx were just getting started. Minnesota and Reeve got busy adding to what figures to be an incredibly competitive training camp roster and made four more selections on the night.

Add Locked On Women’s Basketball to your daily routine

Here at The Next, in addition to the 24/7/365 written content our staff provides, we also host the daily Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast. Join us Monday through Saturday each week as we discuss all things WNBA, collegiate basketball, basketball history and much more. Listen wherever you find podcasts or watch on YouTube.

Draft ‘N Stash

A player who won’t figure into this year’s training camp, but could feature in training camps down the road is 6’5” 19-year-old post player out of Saint-Quentin, France Maïa Hirsch. Hirsch is young and won’t play in the W this summer, but her blend of size and sweet shooting from deep saw her name rocketing up draft boards throughout the league.

“Maïa Hirsch was a player that, you know as you’re getting the lay of the draft and you introduce international players and how it will impact the draft, I would say she’s a player that’s gained a lot of momentum over the last month,” Reeve said. “You guys know she’s 6’5 and she shoots the three. As I told her, who doesn’t love a big that can shoot the three? She’s just 19. She’s extremely passionate about playing in the WNBA. That energy was palpable.”


Post Presence

The Lynx locked in some much-needed post help with the 16th overall pick in the draft, picking up Dorka Juhász from UConn by way of Ohio State.

Juhász was a player a number of mock drafters had going to Minnesota in the 12-spot and the Lynx were all too happy to still land Juhász four picks later.

“With Dorka, we knew that she would go no lower than 16,” Reeve said. “You just never know, with the stuff you hear, how much of it is real. There was a chance Dorka could go a little higher, but we felt like we were in the range for her, so we felt good about that.”

The feeling was mutual with the former UConn Husky.

“I’m looking forward to just going there,” Juhász said. “Obviously knowing that Napheesa Collier is there is definitely a huge excitement for me. Just learning a lot from her whenever I came to UConn, watching a lot of film on her, how can I be successful in a UConn jersey, because she was so successful already at UConn. Kind of learning a lot of things from her just watching her play. But now kind of being there and learning from her, having that leader, I’m very excited. But even just the whole organization.

“I’m definitely a very competitive person. I know they are. I know they want to win a WNBA championship. I’m just excited to go there, learn from them and start to work.”

Beal of the Draft

The chance to add one of college basketball’s best defensive players—who has spent the last four seasons wreaking havoc on any opponent the second they get the ball in their hands, and a national champion to boot—are few and far between. Minnesota got that chance exactly when South Carolina’s Brea Beal fell to them at No. 24 overall, the final pick of the second round. 

“We were thrilled at 24,” Reeve said. “I know she’s awfully disappointed, because I think the mock drafts all said where she would be (higher). That’s really hard. What happens in that situation, I think is there’s a sentiment that maybe (Jordan) Horston would go higher and I’m not so sure Brea wasn’t on Seattle’s board. I don’t know for sure, but things happen in the draft that all of the sudden teams maybe go a different direction.

“In terms of how it helps us, a player with size who likes to defend, that was a stated goal of ours that we wanted to add some defense to what we’re doing.”

All-ACC Pedigree

Minnesota continued to be opportunistic in the third round, adding another defensive stopper and perennial All-ACC selection Taylor Soule out of Virginia Tech by way of Boston College.

Soule, who played an essential part in the Hokies Final Four run in the spring, will bring toughness and rebounding to the Lynx, and with nearly 2,000 points scored in her college career, she has a nose for the basket as well. 

Want even more women’s sports in your inbox?

Subscribe now to our sister publication The IX and receive our independent women’s sports newsletter six days a week. Learn more about your favorite athletes and teams around the world competing in soccer, tennis, basketball, golf, hockey and gymnastics from our incredible team of writers.

Readers of The Next now save 50% on their subscription to The IX.

The draft haul amounts to five new players in the Lynx system, four of whom will be part of this spring’s essential training camp at the very least.

“I think, unlike in some years past, we are incredibly open-minded in terms of who is on our roster and why,” Reeve said. “I think all of the prospects should feel really good about coming to the Minnesota Lynx training camp because they will be given an absolute very good look and chance to be on our team.” 

Written by Terry Horstman

Terry Horstman is a Minneapolis-based writer and covers the Minnesota Lynx beat for The Next. He previously wrote about the Minnesota Timberwolves for A Wolf Among Wolves, and his other basketball writing has been published by Flagrant Magazine, HeadFake Hoops, Taco Bell Quarterly, and others. He's the creative nonfiction editor for the sports-themed literary magazine, the Under Review.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.