Since the Minnesota Lynx became WNBA champions for the first time in 2011, they have featured a wide variety of outstanding players.
Maya Moore combined explosiveness with a buoyant attitude while becoming one of the world's best.
Seimone Augustus was the crafty wing scorer with the sudden crossover and the sweet midrange jumper.
Rebekkah Brunson worked in the paint and the shadows, her defense and rebounding too often going unappreciated because her teammates were international stars.
Sylvia Fowles was and is such a dominant inside player that a team that had won two titles without her changed its offense to highlight her skills.
Lindsay Whalen was the ideal, selfless point guard, a two-time Olympian invested in keeping her teammates happy.
Those five could beat you with strength or skill. They combined to win four titles. And three of them — Moore, Augustus and Whalen — could beat you by dribbling the ball into the teeth of the defense and hitting a shot with a hand in their face or a forearm across their throat.
As Lynx coach and GM Cheryl Reeve has rebuilt the roster following the departure of four of her five stars, she has surrounded Fowles with ballhandling (in the form of Layshia Clarendon and Crystal Dangerfield), shooting (Kayla McBride) and a do-it-all All-Star who can score (Napheesa Collier).
But until September 2021, Reeve didn't have what Augustus, Moore and Whalen so often provided: a grab-and-go scorer who could thrive at the end of shot clocks and games, who could break down a defense on her own, who had a pure scorer's killer instinct.
Then Aerial Powers' thumb began to heal. Since becoming well enough to play as a regular, Powers has scored 17 or more points in five of her past six games. The Lynx have won five of those six. In the regular-season finale, Powers scored 27 points against her former team, Washington.
On Sunday, the Lynx will face a talented, well-coached Chicago team in a one-game playoff for the right to advance to the league semifinals for the second straight season. Anybody watching the game who hasn't been paying attention of late will be struck by Powers' relentless energy and fierce competitiveness.
"I feel like I'm progressing at the right time,'' she said. "I feel like our whole team is. You can see it every time we play. I feel good. I feel confident about this playoff run. I feel like this can be a championship team.''
Connecticut is the prohibitive favorite to win the title. The Lynx rank as the third-best team, and they performed well this year against No. 2 seed Las Vegas.
For the Lynx to advance further than they did last year, for them to challenge for another title, they'll need to rely on a reconstituted backcourt.
Clarendon was claimed off waivers in the middle of the season and has become invaluable, but will play limited minutes because of a right tibia stress reaction.
The two have started one game together. They'd like to start about seven to 11 more together before these playoffs end.
"The only player that I really want to get a better connection with is Lay,'' Powers said.
After spending much of her career as a role player, Powers became a star-quality scorer for Washington when the Mystics won the 2019 WNBA title.
For Reeve's plan to work this year, the Lynx will have to defy convention.
Many of their key players have spent little time together on the court. Few dynasties in sports history have reset, rebuilt and won again in short order, and the Lynx's last title was in 2017. Clarendon, Collier and Powers have felt the effects of injuries.
The Lynx played well without Powers during the regular season, but she gives them something unique, something they haven't had since their glory years: a get-your-own-shot-and-make-it, dribble-past-you-twice on the same possession scorer.
She may be as entertaining as any Lynx player since Moore.