The WNBA’s Western Conference race may have been altered fairly radically when Tulsa guard Skylar Diggins was lost for the season with a right knee ACL injury.
Diggings was drafted third overall in the 2013 draft, one of the “three to see’’ along with Brittney Griner and Elena Delle Donne.
Digging was hurt while chasing down a rebound in the final minute of Tulsa’s victory over Seattle on Sunday. Tulsa won that game, its eighth straight victory, keeping the Shock atop the Western Conference.
When a player of Diggins’ talent – her star was rising along with Tulsa’s – gets hurt, it is felt all around the league.
“It’s heartbreaking news,” said Lynx star Seimone Augustus.
She should know. Augustus was off to a tremendous start in 2009, averaging 21 points and shooting 57 percent from the field through five games. Not coincidentally, the Lynx got off to a 4-1 start. But Augustus tore an ACL in the sixth game and was lost for the season.
“Numerous top players have been through the injury,’’ Augustus said. “A lot of us found a way to bounce back after the injury and our career kind of took off after that. Hopefully Skylar will have that same mentality.’’
Diggins is a former college teammate of Lynx forward Devereaux Peters and they remain friends. Augustus said she was going to get Diggins’ address from Peters and plans to send flowers and a note.
“Players eight fall to the wayside or they take it to the next level (after such an injury),’’ Augustus said. “With her mindset, she’ll take it to the next level.’’
But the next question is how will Diggins’ injury impact the Western Conference race? The Shock lost in Seattle on Tuesday and are now just a half-game ahead of the Lynx in the West.
“It’s hard to go through, but I know that group has great resolve,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said of the Shock. “They’ll stay the course and continue to be hard to play against.’’
Here are some other nuggets from today’s practice:
--Spanish guard Anna Cruz – whose rights were acquired in a draft-day trade with New York – will arrive in town Friday. Cruz missed the first month of the season while playing for the Spanish national team in the EuroBasket tournament.
It won’t take long for Reeve to get Cruz into game action. The Lynx host Seattle Friday, then have a week off between games; they play next in Chicago July 10.
The Lynx will take Saturday off. Reeve might have a rather informal gathering on Sunday to acclimate Cruz with her new teammates. Then, with a week of practice, Cruz should be ready to play Sunday, Reeve said.
“I’m from the school of why wait around?’’ Reeve said. “I like the timing. WE have a little time, a week between games. I think by the time we play (at Chicago) she’ll be well-versed in what we want to do.’’
The Lynx are excited to have Cruz, a tenacious perimeter defender with a strong mid-range game on offense. She will back up Lindsay Whalen on the point while allowing Monica Wright to play her true off-guard position almost exclusively.
--It’s nice to see another member of the Jones family practicing with the Lynx. Tyus Jones, the Apple Valley star just drafted by the Timberwolves, used to spend some of his summer days as part of the group of men who practice against the Lynx. Now Tre Jones – about to be a sophomore at Apple Valley – is doing more and more of that. He was at practice Thursday.
That’s about it for now. Have a great Fourth of July weekend.