Lynetta Kizer has been in the WNBA for six seasons, played for four teams, made it to the playoffs four times.
She has played against Sylvia Fowles and Rebekkah Brunson in some big, big games. Kizer was with Phoenix when the Mercury and Lynx met in the Western Conference finals. She was with Indiana when the Fever lost to the Lynx in five games in the 2015 WNBA Finals.
And yet, when she joined Fowles and Brunson this past week for practice, it was a revelation.
“It has been amazing,” Kizer said. “Just how hard they really work. You don’t see it on the outside. You don’t see it unless you’re in here and seeing it.”
Funny then, that one of the reasons Kizer is here is so both Brunson and Fowles can work less.
During the Lynx title run last season, veteran backup forward Plenette Pierson played a big part. Both on the court — where she averaged 13.7 minutes and 5.2 points — and with her leadership. After the Lynx won, Pierson retired.
It’s probably not fair to say Kizer is this year’s Pierson. After all, Pierson was even more of a veteran, one who had been through the wars with coach Cheryl Reeve when both were in Detroit.
But, in terms of being the first big off the bench this year, it’s Kizer.
The 6-3, 243-pound Kizer is strong, tall and — according to Reeve after a week of practice — surprisingly agile. In her career, she has started 28 of 166 regular-season games, averaging 13.5 minutes, 6.2 points and 2.9 rebounds.
But, on a per-36-minute rate, Kizer has scored at a 16.5-point pace, with 8.6 rebounds.
Initially, Kizer looks to be the primary backup for Brunson. But that role is in flux. The Lynx are hoping second-year player Temi Fagbenle can back up Fowles at center a bit more this season. But if Fagbenle struggles, Kizer would get minutes there.
Plus, at least at first blush, Reeve has been surprised at Kizer’s ability to guard smaller forwards. If she can do that, Kizer can likely take advantage of that matchup at the other end in the low post.
But Reeve needs to see more.
“We haven’t really gotten into ways we defend the post,” she said Wednesday. “We did a little pick and roll today. She’s very capable. Agile enough. It depends on who we play against.”
Kizer’s playing time could also be affected by how much Reeve goes with a three-guard lineup, especially off the bench, with Tanisha Wright, Alexis Jones and Danielle Robinson.
Kizer, though, is ready for anything.
“It was a no-brainer,” she said, when asked why she signed as a free agent in February. “This organization is first class.
“And then you get to come in and play with some Olympians. You learn more about the game and see how they got to the level of players they are today. Coming to play with Sylvia and Rebekkah? I want to continue to learn.”
Reeve will know more about Kizer after Sunday’s preseason opener against Washington in Des Moines. Reeve isn’t planning on playing her starters much.
In the first week Kizer has impressed on defense, which is no surprise. She has shown the post moves and midrange game she is known for. But she is also shown more range than the Lynx thought she had. Kizer has only taken only 11 three-pointers in her career, making three. But, like Brunson last year, she says she can stretch her range.
“People don’t know I can shoot the three, but I can,” she said.
Lynx sign forward
The Lynx signed 6-3 forward Jillian Alleyne, a second-round pick by Phoenix in 2016. Alleyne averaged 17.9 points and 14.3 rebounds as a senior at Oregon, but that season was cut short because of a torn knee ligament that also cost her the 2016 season. She was waived by New York on Thursday.