Lynx fans are probably used to this by now. But, again, here’s the short preview for Thursday’s WNBA draft: Don’t expect the player the Lynx choose with their first-round pick to be starting any time soon.
Indeed, that player might not even play this season.
The Lynx has the second-to-last pick in the first round — 11th overall — of the draft, which begins at 6 p.m.
Yes, the Lynx have needs. Like everyone else in the Brittney Griner era, Minnesota would like to get bigger. They would like to improve their three-point shooting and find a strong point guard to back up Lindsay Whalen.
But there is also reality. The team’s roster is already at 15; center Amber Harris and forward Rachel Jarry, who both missed last season with injuries, are slated to be in camp this spring. There’s a 15-player limit on training camp rosters, and any draftee making the final roster will have to beat out a veteran.
“You’re always trying to improve your roster,” team president Roger Griffith said. “If we get to 11 and we see someone we think can help — think there is someone better than our roster right now? We’ll go for that.
“We’re also prepared to go with deferrals.”
That means taking a player who might not help right away but perhaps down the road.
The team’s starting five of Whalen, Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore, Rebekkah Brunson and Janel McCarville are back, as are top backups Monica Wright and Devereaux Peters.
But that roster is starting to show some wear and tear. Wright, Peters and Brunson all had knee procedures that affected their 2014 seasons, and all three had follow-up procedures after the season ended; neither Brunson nor Wright played in Europe over the winter.
The Lynx are hoping last year’s top pick, Trisha Liston, will get a jump from a strong season in Italy and return a more confident player.
But, in a draft that is very even in talent at the top — and, therefore, more difficult to predict — the Lynx are keeping their options open.
The good news is that the decisions by Gophers center Amada Zahui B. and Notre Dame guard Jewell Loyd to come out early have made the draft deeper. Both are expected to go very high, meaning the Lynx will have more options.
“When you’re drafting at the bottom of the first round you don’t expect that player to, all of a sudden, be someone that is going to come in and be a starter for us,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said.
“What you hope for, every year, when you’re at the bottom of the draft there, is to find a serviceable player who will be with the team for, like, four years.”
Or for a player that might not be with the team at the beginning but join it later.
Among the players the Lynx could pick at No. 11 are Iowa guard Samantha Logic, Kansas forward Chelsea Gardner, Connecticut center Kiah Stokes and Dayton forward Ally Malott.
But the Lynx might also take a chance on a highly regarded player who will have to miss this season because of an injury, such as Tennessee center Isabelle Harrison or Texas forward Nneka Enemkpali, both recovering from ACL injuries.
The Lynx have often used the draft to make picks for the future. For example, Minnesota took Damiris Dantas in the first round in 2012 but didn’t bring her to Minnesota until last season.
When the draft begins Thursday, the Lynx will wait patiently to see if a player on their list falls to them in a draft that, unlike most, is deeper with post players than with perimeter players.