May 18, 2024 

Natisha Hiedeman brings a little bit of everything to Minnesota

The versatile guard is already an essential part of Minnesota's chemistry

MINNEAPOLIS — Guard Natisha Hiedeman has received no shortage of praise in the early days of her tenure with the Minnesota Lynx. It’s the beginning of a WNBA second act that’s seen her move on from the Connecticut Sun, where she played five seasons and was the third-best 3-point shooter in franchise history (39.2%).

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Lynx guard Courtney Williams, who played with Hiedeman in Connecticut, referred to her as a player who “can go. T can really go.” After just one preseason game, Lynx star Napheesa Collier praised Hiedeman’s “calming presence” and referred to her as a player who is “really curious” and trustworthy at “that commander spot.”

When asked to describe herself and how she has gained the trust of new teammates in a short period of time, Hiedeman was a little more self-deprecating.  

“Honestly, I’m just annoying,” Hiedeman said with a laugh during training camp. “I ask like a million questions. It’s important as the point guard to know every single [teammate] and every single thing that everybody likes to do. That creates the chemistry and that’s what gets things rolling. When you know everybody like the back of your hand, sometimes you don’t even need to look, you know [where] they’re going to be.”

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Minnesota is 2-0 after a pair of games against the Storm filled with interesting storylines. The two wins have shown the Lynx still have plenty to work on, and protecting the ball and limiting points in the paint are at the top of that list. But getting those results against a Seattle team expected to finish near the top of the standings shows that the Lynx’s training camp declarations of being much further along than last year’s outfit at this time were far more than lip service. 

Hiedeman’s ability to cultivate chemistry has been key for the Lynx this season. While there are many familiar faces in Minnesota, Cheryl Reeve’s team is relying on offseason acquisitions to handle plenty of the load. Along with Alanna Smith and Williams, Hiedeman makes three Lynx newcomers among the team’s top seven players. 

“We’ve been building each day. Training camp has been super fun,” Hiedeman said at the team’s media day. “You could tell this group is here for the right reason. We’re here for one reason, and that’s to win and play as a team. It’s a good feeling when you’ve got everybody on the same page. The chemistry’s been great. We’ve been learning a lot and building on it each day.”

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It’s not just teammates who have expressed enthusiasm to see Hiedeman in a Lynx uniform, either. After the first preseason game, players stayed late on the Target Center floor to sign autographs for season ticket-holders. Several shared similar sentiments with Hiedeman, the memory of her being a terror against Minnesota in the 2023 playoffs clearly fresh on their minds. 

“They said they were happy I’m on the team so they can like me now,” Hiedeman said. “So that’s a good feeling.”

Between the trade for Hiedeman and the acquisition of Williams, elevating the team’s guard play was a clear priority for Reeve and company this offseason.

“You have to have guard play,” Reeve said at Hiedeman’s introductory presser. “Guard play is central to a team’s success.”

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Hiedeman’s reputation as a guard who can do everything — and ask everything — makes her a sight for Lynx fans brighter than the green light she has to shoot from deep. 

“Her light couldn’t be more green,” Reeve said at the introductory presser. “If she takes 10 shots, seven should be threes.”

Through two games, Hiedeman hasn’t fully uncorked her 3-point shot, shooting 1-for-3 from distance, but her minutes off the bench are a big reason why Minnesota is undefeated. On defense, she had a pair of steals in both games and threw herself into Seattle’s passing lanes constantly. Offensively, she’s been a key playmaker, sharing facilitating duties with Williams, and dished out a game-high seven assists off the bench in Friday’s marathon double-overtime victory.

“Natisha’s ball pressure, we talked about that when we acquired her, that’s something we’re really asking for from her,” Reeve said after the season opener on Tuesday. “I thought she was really hard to play against. She really was competing, making life hard for the person that was trying to run [Seattle’s] offense.”

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Hiedeman has made it clear in both words and actions since she arrived in Minnesota that she’s a player you’ll see competing on both ends of the floor with energy on top of energy. To see both in her first two games as a Lynx bodes well for what Minnesota hopes to accomplish moving forward. 

“She’s really curious,” Collier said. “She’s one of the people I was talking about who was asking where people like the ball, how they like to get into their actions where they’re most successful. I think that’s a really important quality in a point guard. Courtney does the same thing as well. It’s really important when you’re at that commander spot that you know what your soldiers like to do. The fact that we have people taking that initiative is one of the reasons why I think our chemistry is coming [along] so quickly.” 

Related content: Locked On Women’s Basketball: Natisha Hiedeman, difference-maker for Minnesota Lynx, Penn State

Originally drafted by the Lynx before getting sent to Connecticut in a draft night trade in 2019, Hiedeman’s arrival in Minneapolis was delayed by a half decade of winning with the Sun. But the do-it-all guard out of Marquette has quickly made up for lost time and carved out an integral role for a team looking to get back to championship splendor. 

“Everybody’s been very welcoming. Honestly, it feels like I’ve been here [a long time],” Hiedeman said after Day 2 of training camp about ending up in Minnesota. “It’s crazy how things work. I’m super happy and super excited … I’ve been able to be really free here, enjoy my time and get coached really hard. I enjoy that. My teammates are great, so it’s good. Everything’s good so far.” 

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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