June 11, 2024 

‘Pass her the ball’: Kayla McBride is turning Lynx games into three-point shooting clinics

McBride posted one of the best two-game shooting stretches in WNBA history

MINNEAPOLIS — Kayla McBride didn’t hit every single shot she put up in Minnesota’s 83-64 win against Seattle on Sunday night, but it felt like she did. Every time McBride put up a shot, just about every single hand in the Target Center shot up in the air in anticipation that the ball, launched from somewhere between 23 and 27 feet from the basket, would splash through the net.

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McBride’s last two games, one of the best two-game shooting performances the league has ever seen, have been sensational. But to fully appreciate the tear Minnesota’s co-captain is on, one has to go back to the end of last season, when the Lynx announced the contract extension that ensured the player known as ‘McBuckets’ would remain a significant part of the team’s future.

“Kayla has proven to be such an integral part of the Lynx since her arrival in 2021. Her play this season, coupled with her leadership, has been vital to the Lynx returning to playoff basketball,” Lynx Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations Cheryl Reeve said to open the press conference, which took place in Chicago ahead of Minnesota’s penultimate regular season game. “We look forward to KMac wearing the Lynx uniform for years to come.”

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When it was McBride’s turn to speak, she began by thanking everybody and turning the Zoom camera around to show her “peanut gallery”: the entire Lynx roster and travel party, all in the room giving their support. McBride remarked on the sisterhood and family environment within the Lynx organization that allowed her to continue to elevate her game during her first three seasons in Minnesota.

“From the moment I talked to Cheryl for the first time when I was somewhere overseas, I knew this was the place I wanted to be,” McBride said. “I truly believe the grass is greener where you water it. The giving of myself, especially this year, has been a lot of fun. I’ve enjoyed the process. I’ve matured a lot over these three years. When I go in the gym everyday, I just enjoy where I’m at. That’s the biggest part of this whole thing.”

Fast forward to now, almost a dozen games into her fourth season as a Lynx and McBride is playing at an absolutely scintillating pace. As of games played through June 10, she is the only WNBA player shooting threes above a 50% clip. Her 51.2% (43-of-84) from deep leads the league by a comfortable margin. Her 18 points per game mark her highest per game scoring output since 2018.

McBride has connected on five or more threes in the three of her last four games. Her 15 made threes over the last two games marks just the second time in league history a player has hit 15 threes in two games. Diana Taurasi did it in September of 2020 on 28 shots; McBride hit her 15 on just 23 attempts. 

“I’m just having a lot of fun,” McBride said with a smirk after scoring 32 points on Sunday, her highest scoring total in a Lynx uniform. “I play overseas every year and that’s just a lot more work that I’ve put in. Those games, shots, the reps I’m getting over there. I think it’s a testament to that. I just have a lot of confidence in what I do.”

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McBride has spent the last four WNBA “offseasons” starring for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahçe. This spring she led them to another EuroLeague Women championship and was crowned EuroLeague Final Four MVP. 

“I think at the end of last season and into [my season] overseas I’ve just kind of found my flow at this point in my career and I’ve just been trying to capitalize on it,” McBride said. “I think that’s what you see. A lot of joy, a lot of peace. I’m having a lot of fun shooting the ball. I just have a lot of confidence in the work I’ve put in and everything that goes into it.”

McBride’s confidence in her shot is matched by her Lynx teammates, who only have one thought on their minds once she gets going:

“Pass her the ball,” Napheesa Collier said after McBride’s performance in a win over Atlanta where she went 6-of-7 from deep. “She was so hot. It was crazy. She was just throwing it up and it was swish, swish, swish. It was crazy. It was just so fun to see. Mac said she wasn’t thinking about it but on the bench I was like, ‘we need to get you to 30.’”

Collier then turned to McBride at the podium. “You weren’t hitting rim!” 

McBride just smiled. A shooter’s smile that’s been pretty consistent at postgame press conferences so far in 2024. 

Kayla McBride addressing the media following MN Lynx vs Seattle Storm, on June 9th, 2024 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota (Photo credit: John McClellan / The Next)

“I felt good when my first shot went down,” McBride said in Atlanta. “I was like ‘okay, I’ve got my feet under me.’ I have a lot of faith and confidence in my shot. I was just feeling it. I was enjoying it. My teammates were finding me in good spots and I was just having fun. When the first one goes down the hoop kind of gets bigger.”

The hoop has only continued to get bigger and bigger for her. McBride’s 31 points in Atlanta set a then-Lynx-career-high for her. A mark that lasted less than two weeks before her dazzling 32-point night at home against the Storm.

“Every time she shoots the ball in a game I think it’s going in,” Bridget Carleton said after the win against Seattle on Sunday night. “We obviously know what she’s capable of. We’re shooting partners so we shoot everyday together. It adds such a different dynamic to our team and it’s been incredible to witness this stretch. Not just these two games, she’s had incredible numbers leading up to these last two games as well. It’s been fun to play with her. It’s always fun to play with her but especially when she’s shooting like 100% from three.”

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McBride’s three-point prowess isn’t the only statistical metric at the top of the league for the Lynx. Minnesota’s 24.2 assists per game tops the charts by two full assists per outing (the New York Liberty are in second with 22.2 assists per game). The ball movement has created a plethora of problems for opposing defenses to focus on when they play the Lynx.

“I think she’s getting easier threes than maybe she got last season,” Reeve said. “There’s more [for the defense] to worry about. I think that has contributed so her teammates around her are finding her at a good time when a defense is in rotation, but credit to her. Obviously she has to do the hard work, she has to make the shot, but it’s been pretty incredible.”

Minnesota had 25 assists on 27 made baskets against the Storm, eight of those came on McBride’s nine made shots. All seven of her threes were assisted.

“Just the way the ball moves,” McBride said. “I think 93% of our [made] shots were assisted today. As a shooter, especially as someone who likes to catch and shoot threes, you love that. You’re chomping at the bit. We’re just sharing the ball and we make the right play.”

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.

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