Roger Griffith has been saying it for days now. Griffith, executive vice president of the Lynx, had been clear about draft priorities. The team needed a backup point guard, and the ability to shoot a three-pointer and defend on the perimeter.
So don’t be surprised that the Lynx used its first three picks in Monday’s WNBA draft on guards, in the process setting the stage for some wicked competition when training camp opens next month.
With the 12th and final pick in the first round the Lynx took Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore, a true point guard who grew up idolizing Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen and now will learn from the veteran. With 14th pick the Lynx took Georgetown guard Ta’Shauna “Sugar” Rodgers, and with the 24th pick the Lynx took Colorado guard Janeesa “Chucky” Jeffery.
The Lynx finished the night by drafting North Carolina center Waltiea Rolle with the 36th and final draft pick.
“We created a lot of competition there for the rest of the spots on our perimeter,” Griffith said.
Griffith said the Lynx had Moore rated as the second-best point guard in the draft behind Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins, who went third overall. Both Rodgers and Jeffery are combo guards who probably are best suited to play the shooting guard position, though Jeffery could play some small forward.
Bottom line? Rodgers and Jeffery, along with offseason signees Jacki Gemelos and Rachel Jarry, will compete mightily for a spot on the roster.
And that’s a good thing, said coach Cheryl Reeve, who talked about a Lynx team that will have a different look with Candice Wiggins traded away and Erin Thorn released.
“Candice was kind of filling in as a point guard,” Reeve said. “Lindsey is a point guard. That’s a departure for us. … We have to be open-minded about where we’re going to go with this thing. We have a lot of options. If we like all the perimeter players, we’ll keep ’em. And if it creates competition, it can do nothing but push the group. That’s all you can ask for as you go into training camp.”
Moore helped lead Nebraska to two NCAA Sweet 16 berths in her four seasons. She averaged 15.1 points and 5.7 assists as a senior.
“I’m really excited to start playing with the Lynx,” Moore said. “I honestly see my role being a backup for Lindsay Whalen — just provide minutes when I can, bring energy to the team. I’m just going to give it my all.”
While the transition will be difficult, Reeve said Moore is physical enough to make the move quickly. “Lindsey is going to be able to hold her own, in terms of how she sees the game,” Reeve said. “If she stays in her lanes, as we say, and does the things she’s good at, at minimum she’s serviceable. But as she gets more accustomed to what our league is like, I think you’ll see her grow.”
That said, it will be difficult for Moore to get playing time with Monica Wright sure to get significant minutes off the bench at guard.
Rodgers will have to learn to go from the go-to scorer on her college team to more of a role player. Jeffery also will face an uphill battle to make Minnesota’s deep roster. Rolle might opt to finish school this summer before attempting a pro career.
“I can bring excitement, I can score,” Rodgers said. “But I can do the little things too — rebound, share the ball, defend.”
She’ll get a chance to start proving it in camp next month.
“Change is good sometimes,” Reeve said. “The group we had ran its course. It was time to get a little bit of a different look, evolve the team as other teams in the league get better.”