Cheryl Reeve isn't ready to call her team a WNBA title contender yet.
Too early, the Lynx general manager and coach said. Have to wait and see how free agency and the draft play out across the league.
"We improved our roster,'' she said. "We had some real challenges we need to address, and I believe we did that.''
The Lynx officially announced the signing of veteran free agents Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa on Monday. A league source confirmed last week that a third veteran — Aerial Powers — has agreed to terms with the Lynx, but the team has not officially announced that deal.
After coaching the Lynx to a fourth-place finish and a spot in the league semifinals last season with All-Star center Sylvia Fowles injured for most of the season, Reeve wanted to improve the team's rebounding, defense and depth of scoring.
McBride, who comes to the Lynx from Las Vegas, brings a facet to the Lynx offense that has been missing: her ability to come off pindowns and score. The Lynx did that for years with Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore. And, not to put too much pressure on McBride, but she excels at this as well.
"We haven't been able to do that with our recent group of guards,'' Reeve said. "That and she has the ability to fire away at any time, from three, effectively. She's had a lot of freedom over in Turkey [where McBride is playing this winter] and that's something she's looking for. It's very post-centric in Vegas. She wants to be somewhere where she can fire away.''
McBride has career averages of 14.7 points and 36.7% shooting on three-pointers.
In Achonwa, Reeve sees a player cut from the same cloth as former Lynx center Taj McWilliams-Franklin, who was a part of Minnesota's first WNBA title team in 2011. This isn't the first time Reeve has pursued Achonwa; they talked in free agency two years ago.
"There aren't many players who are able or willing to hold teammates accountable,'' Reeve said. "She is cut from that mold. She's a no-nonsense leader, and those things are important. When I think of [former] Notre Dame post players, they come with an ability to have a sense for the game, if you put the ball in their hands, to make passes.''
Achonwa, who figures to back up both Fowles and power forward Damiris Dantas, is a very good high-post passer, something Reeve had with both McWilliams-Franklin and Janel McCarville. Achonwa will also shore up the post defense. Both she and McBride — who rebounded well in Vegas — will help on the boards, too.
Reeve said not having landed top-dollar free agents last year helped them this year. A number of teams were having cap issues and weren't big players in the market.
But, Reeve said, she believes playing last year in the bubble helped the Lynx, too, and not just because they were relatively successful without Fowles.
"The teams, in the bubble, were open books,'' Reeve said. "We were all there together. Being able to see how we operate was appealing to some players, especially for the ones we got. Especially for players like Natalie and Kayla, who knew they probably weren't going to be returning to their teams.''