In two days the Minnesota Lynx have changed their roster rather dramatically.
Wednesday the team came to terms with three-time WNBA All Star guard Kayla McBride. Thursday a league source confirmed the team had also agreed to terms with post player Natalie Achonwa — who played at Notre Dame with McBride — and versatile guard Aerial Powers.
In two days the team has become deeper in scoring, defending and rebounding.
No deals can be announced until Monday.
The three additions also appear to point to a strategy by coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve to add players veteran enough to help the team get the most out of the rest of veteran center Sylvia Fowles' career while at the same time be young enough to be a part of a future centered around rising star Napheesa Collier. Powers is 27, Achonwa and McBride 28.
It also gives the team depth in the post (Achonwa), while appearing to put the Lynx in position to have to make some decisions at guard.
McBride comes in likely vying for a starting spot. Powers, the fifth overall pick in the 2016 draft, was off to her best start ever before injuring a hamstring early in the 2020 season with Washington in the WNBA bubble at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
The Lynx also have reigning rookie of the year in Crystal Dangerfield, Odyssey Sims (who was an All Star in 2019), Rachel Banham and Lexie Brown in the backcourt.
The Lynx were able to make three impactful moves because they had the salary cap room, with players like Mikiah Herbert-Harrigan, Dangerfield, Collier, Jessica Shepard and Brown still on their rookie deals. Also, several teams in the league have been struggling to fit their rosters under the cap, resulting in several higher-profile players being available.
But decisions will have to be made before the team assembles for training camp next spring.
Achonwa — who has played her entire WNBA career in Indiana — appears to be an experienced backup for Fowles and power forward Damiris Dantas. The ninth overall pick in the 2014 draft — the same one in which McBride went third — Achonwa missed her first season because of injury. Since then she has appeared in 168 games with 97 starts, averaging 7.7 points and 4.5 rebounds.
Powers, meanwhile, gives the Lynx even more versatility, as she's able to play both guard positions and even on the wing in a smaller lineup. She has played in 104 games with 16 starters, with career averages of 10.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 19 minutes in a career played in both Dallas and Washington. But, when injuries to the Washington Mystics roster pushed her into the starting lineup last season, Powers got off to the best start of her career. She was averaging 16.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists before being injured in her sixth game.
The Lynx appear to be a popular landing spot for players. Minnesota was able to finish fourth overall in the WNBA and advance to the league semifinals with Fowles missing most of the season because of a calf injury. That team will be augmented not only by these free agent additions. Shepard, a forward off to a very strong start as a rookie in 2019 before tearing an ACL, will be back. Fowles will be healthy and Bridget Carleton, who emerged as a strong rotation player last year, will return.