June 10, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: Outlooks for Seattle Storm, Minnesota Lynx and more

Seattle embraces youth movement, while Minnesota bets on vets

In the latest episode of Locked on Women’s Basketball, Em Adler and Lincoln Shafer discuss how some of the WNBA teams that were expected to take a step back this season have fared. In particular, they contrast the Seattle Storm and Minnesota Lynx’s differing approaches to roster-building.

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Em explains how, under third-year head coach Noelle Quinn, the Storm have increasingly given the team’s four rookies opportunities to prove themselves:

Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu, the rookie big out of USF, has gone from basically not playing at all to getting a solid couple five-minute runs in the past couple games. But I think most notably Jordan Horston, obviously, the rookie [wing] out of Tennessee … has basically just steadily had her minutes increase [as] the season has gone on. She is showcasing one of the most versatile skill sets in the W already. The things that they are able to do with her, the things that she is finding spots for is pretty incredible.

“But I think what’s really stood out to us that may have gone a little under the radar is the minutes [Australian point guard] Jade Melbourne is getting and the minutes that [wing] Ivana Dojkić is getting … This is what you want to come away with. This is what you have a chance to swing for the fences on because you can roster a bunch of players like this and see what they can do.”

In contrast, as Lincoln explains, Minnesota has relied more on established WNBA players under head coach and president of basketball operations Cheryl Reeve:

“It’s an interesting dichotomy between Seattle and Minnesota when you’re seeing how Minnesota is trying to take players that maybe have been in the WNBA longer — like Tiffany Mitchell, like Jess Shepard — and trying to see if they can maximize their skill sets, instead of taking swings on younger players who may not have the same kind of track record. …

“A lot of that comes back to their preseason roster decisions, where they let two promising, interesting-looking rookies walk … The top three minute-getters for Minnesota are all returning players from their team last year, just in expanded roles. And I think that that’s one of the big differences. I’m not sure how much value you’re really getting out of seeing these more established players in this different context, especially in a long-term sense.”

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  1. RM Williams on June 11, 2023 at 1:39 pm

    The Minnesota Lynx are trapped in inconsistency. The three big signings of a few years ago, McBride, Powers, and Achonwa, have delivered sporadically. None of them have lived up to expectations. It is time to retire McBride’s nickname, McBuckets, or change it to Missed Buckets. Achonwa had done nothing of note before her pregnancy, and her presence on the court is not missed at all. Powers has moments, but not minutes. It is painfully obvious from the seats that something is amiss with Powers. Tiffany Mitchell has brought the skill of veteran and has contributed. Collier gets better with every game, and shows the kind of fire this team needs to succeed. Banham, Milic, and Carlton are essentially non-factors. Because Banham is a local, every bucket is met with thunderous applause. Again, the inconsistency is glaring, and the local celebrity nonsense doesn’t win games. Dorka Juhász shows a lot of promise and is deserving of the extended minutes. Not just because Diamond Miller is out, but because the talent is there (thanks Ohio State and UConn). Shepard and Allen, well, neither does quite enough, even though they both play with some drive. So Cheryl Reeve is going to have to do a lot of house cleaning, either this season or certainly next. Next year could and should be a more productive building year. Let’s just hope Coach Reeve finds a higher caliber of materials.

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