February 2, 2021 

‘My next step’: How Kayla McBride plans to level up in Minnesota

Lynx's newest addition wants to add to the trophy case

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Las Vegas Aces guard Kayla McBride (21) during the WNBA game between the Las Vegas Aces and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA on August 23, 2019. Photo Credit: Chris Poss

It’s official: Three-time WNBA All-Star guard Kayla McBride is now a member of the Minnesota Lynx. The team announced yesterday it has signed McBride, but per team policy, the terms of the deal were not disclosed.

McBride was selected by San Antonio in the first round (third overall) of the 2014 WNBA draft and stayed with the team when it moved to Las Vegas and became the Aces. There, she helped her team reach the 2020 Finals by starting all 22 games and scoring 12.5 points per game. McBride is ranked among the league’s top 10 in free throw accuracy in each of the past four seasons and will be a huge asset to Minnesota’s offense.

For both McBride and the Lynx, this deal has been a long time coming. Head coach Cheryl Reeve has wanted to add McBride to her roster for a while now, and it just so happens with Kayla able to choose her own path this offseason, the timing was perfect.

McBride ready to level up

This is McBride’s first go at unrestricted free agency and she had her eyes set on taking her game to the next level. The combination of the Lynx’ winning culture and McBride’s competitive nature will be a perfect marriage for the guard.

“I think that they come with an amount of respect across the league,” McBride said. “Automatically, as a competitor you want to be a part of a winning team and I think that Coach Reeve has done a great job over the last decade of creating that culture and the environment for this team in the city and it’s just something that’s really appealing.”

Being able to play within an organization that has won championships and that has rostered Hall of Famers and Olympians is what McBride is calling her “next step.” The Lynx will complement McBride’s play style nicely: tough, gritty and competitive.

McBride wants to strive to become a more dimensional player this season. Diversifying her game and being able to score in lots of different ways will be a crucial tool for Minnesota’s offense. Coach Reeve expects to see the Lynx mix things up on the court – they aren’t going to simply rely on shooters’ prowess beyond the arc.

“We’ve got some big passers that I think Kayla can benefit from. If you’re always running one direction, and that’s towards the three-point line, you’re a lot easier to guard. I think if you can mix up your cuts, things in term of the space and the time that you have to get your shots increases … With Kayla, we’ll have a little bit more of a return to some of the things we did before and a big missing piece to our offense has been we haven’t had players that have enjoyed coming on for pindowns. And that’s just a feature to our offense that we think is really important and I’m excited to have that back.”

Minnesota is an organization that McBride has long admired and looked up to. She is looking forward to soaking up as much knowledge as she can from her new teammates, including forward Napheesa Collier and center Sylvia Fowles.

Reeve striving for efficiency

To Coach Reeve, the way to create a winning team isn’t to be the best at one aspect of the game. To have real success, you have to be efficient in everything you do. Players and teams can excel and be celebrated for one thing they do exceptional well, but all-around efficiency is what wins championships.

A big focus area for the Lynx this season is going to be improving their defensive rebounds, which Reeve describes as “average” last year.

“I want to be a great rebounding team,” Reeve said. “When you’re a great rebounding team you’re going to get a lot more opportunities to play the pace and get the type of shots that lead to efficiency, and that’s what every team is after.”

Reeve believes that in order to optimize her team’s offensive output, improving on the defensive end is key.

Reunited and it feels so good

Minnesota also announced yesterday that it signed free agent forward Natalie Achonwa, who played with McBride at Notre Dame.

Achonwa was selected by Indiana in the first round (ninth overall) of the 2014 WNBA Draft and has made a name for herself in her first six seasons in the league. She was honored with the 2020 Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award and was the 2019 WNBA Community Assist winner. She’s been on the hardwood in seven career playoff games, including a trip to the 2015 WNBA Finals against Minnesota.

“I am ecstatic to join the Minnesota Lynx, a franchise that has proven it knows what it takes to win,” said Achonwa. “From my role in Coach Reeve’s system, to the commitment and impact the Lynx have in the community, it’s a great fit.”

The Lynx are making it clear they hope to continue their winning tradition in 2021. With these acquisitions, they will try to make a run for their 11th consecutive playoff appearance this season.

Written by Sydney Olmstead

Pac-12 and Las Vegas Aces reporter.

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