Lynx Update: A fast start to 2024

WNBA

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The Minnesota Lynx have opened the 2024 WNBA season on a high note, winning their first two games and sitting in fourth place in the league’s standings. Both wins came against the Seattle Storm, with the Lynx using the early scheduling quirk to get an early lead in the standings against an opponent they may be battling for playoff seeding later in the season.

According to Swish Appeal’s preseason power rankings (as voted on by the site’s staff members), expectations will be high for both the Storm (No. 3) and Lynx (No. 5) in 2024. Minnesota’s pair of opening-week victories over Seattle not only gave the Lynx an early-season cushion in the standings, but also demonstrated just how far along they are in terms of team chemistry—at least in comparison to their opponents. In both games, the Storm recorded more turnovers than assists, and while Minnesota’s cumulative assist/turnover ratio wasn’t spectacular either, the Lynx’s performances as a team were notably more cohesive than that of the Storm’s, despite both rosters adding significant pieces in free agency this past offseason.

It certainly helps that the Lynx have Napheesa Collier. The 2023 All-WNBA First-Teamer has been extremely productive, totaling 49 points, 21 rebounds and seven steals in the two Minnesota victories. Collier was named the WNBA’s Player of the Week for the Western Conference, which is the fifth time in her career she’s received the honor, according to Across the Timeline.

The Lynx also got big contributions from forward Alanna Smith, who recently signed a two-year protected contract with Minnesota. Smith performed well against an athletic frontcourt of Nneka Ogwumike and Ezi Magbegor, totaling 38 points (14-for-25 shooting) and 10 blocked shots in the two wins.

This is especially encouraging considering that Dorka Juhász has yet to suit up. The 2023 All-Rookie center is still fulfilling overseas obligations with Italian club Beretta Famila Schio; she’ll play a big role for the Lynx when she returns from Italy, but with the way Smith has been playing so far, Minnesota head coach Cheryl Reeve may opt to bring Juhász off the bench.

Regardless, the Lynx’s play to begin the season has to be pleasing to Reeve. Minnesota has started slowly more often than not in recent years, opening the 2021 and 2022 seasons 0-4 and the 2023 season 0-6. Those Lynx teams had to climb their way out of those early-season holes they dug for themselves, and it cost them valuable postseason seeding.

Minnesota has already cleared that bar—as low as it might be—in 2024. Things won’t get any easier, however, as Reeve’s squad takes on a pair of Eastern Conference powerhouses later this week.

What’s next for the Lynx

Connecticut Sun v Minnesota Lynx

Alyssa Thomas and the Connecticut Sun defeated the Lynx two games to one in the 2023 WNBA playoffs.
Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

The Lynx may have triumphed over a Storm team that’s still trying to find its identity, but they’ll have their work cut out for them against the Connecticut Sun (3-0), who they’ll travel to play this Thursday, May 23. Connecticut has won at least 20 games in six of the past seven WNBA seasons, and perennial MVP candidate Alyssa Thomas brings a level of physicality that Minnesota will need to find a way to match.

The Lynx will then take on the New York Liberty (4-0), who are coming off a WNBA Finals appearance in 2023 and look just as tough to begin 2024. New York’s revamped bench features considerably more athleticism than it did last year, and with the 6-foot-6 Jonquel Jones and 6-foot-5 Breanna Stewart in the frontcourt, Minnesota may have issues matching up with its relative lack of size.

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