When the Lynx won league titles in 2011 and 2013, pretty much the entire team returned the next year, with the roster just needing minor tweaks.
Not this time. In a process that started with a number of offseason moves and will continue with Thursday’s WNBA draft, the Lynx are significantly overhauling of their bench.
It won’t be easy. The Lynx gave up their first-round pick in the midseason trade that brought Sylvia Fowles from Chicago. Minnesota enters the draft with two second-round picks (Nos. 14 and 22) and one in the third (No. 35).
The team’s hope: To get a player who will stick on the roster and see meaningful minutes as a rookie.
“And that’s a tall task when you’re picking at 14,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “A tall task. We’ll need a little luck. So I’m hoping for luck.”
There are needs. Top backup forward Devereaux Peters was traded to Indiana in exchange for forward Natasha Howard in a deal made necessary by the salary cap. Key backup point guard Anna Cruz, who is playing for Spain in the Olympics, might not be with the team this season. And the team needs depth to avoid putting too many minutes on Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen. So the Lynx re-signed backup guard Renee Montgomery and signed European guard Katerina Elhotova. The Lynx still could use:
• A backup guard, particularly behind Augustus, who has been hampered by injuries.
• A stretch forward, a role Peters often filled.
• Another big body who can defend low and spell Fowles.
Reeve said she and assistant coach Shelley Patterson have put in more work scouting this draft class than they did the last three years combined.
“At 14, that player will probably have some warts to their game,” Reeve said. “But we’re looking for someone with a work ethic, a competitive drive. Maybe they’ll be raw, but they might have a big upside.”
In a best-case scenario, a top shooting guard could fall to the Lynx like Kahleah Copper of Rutgers or Courtney Walker from Texas A&M. If they are gone, the Lynx could look at post players Ruth Hamblin of Oregon State, Rachel Hollivay of Rutgers, Bashaara Graves of Tennessee or Temi Fagbenle of Southern California.