For months now, really, all the Lynx have talked about is how the 2023 team will be based around, built for and feature Napheesa Collier.
And so, after the first practice of training camp Sunday, the question: Does all of this talk about Phee put a little bit of pressure on Phee?
"It does," Collier said. "But I feel it's a good pressure. It's like an honor. This is a dynasty organization. So to have that be on my shoulders now, I take it very seriously."
So much has changed for Collier.
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve is implementing a five-out offensive attack, where every player begins the possession on the outside, making room for cutting, driving, dishing, collapsing the offense and throwing the ball back out for a three-pointer. In many ways the offense will look like the 2020 Lynx, where — playing in the COVID-19 bubble in Bradenton, Fla., with center Sylvia Fowles injured for most of the season — the team inverted its offense, which became the fourth-most efficient in the league.
A lot of work has been put into assembling a roster with the talent to run such a system. That includes the free-agent signing of Tiffany Mitchell and drafting Maryland guard Diamond Miller second overall, two players capable of breaking down a defense.
But, of course, it all starts with Collier. The last time fans saw her was when she rushed back, probably too early, from having her first baby to play with the Lynx over the final four games of last season. She did it to get on the court for a final time with Fowles.
But now, with an extensive offseason workout plan, an enhanced handle and a three-point shot that Reeve said is night-and-day better than it was in the past, Collier is fit and ready to go. Reeve said in the week leading up to camp Collier would show up at the office early just aching to get going.
Now it's time. Collier is the lone captain on the 2023 team; Reeve could not remember ever having a team with just one captain. It's a statement, and a challenge: "You can't have a bad day as a leader," Reeve said. "You have to show up every day as a leader. She is the leader."
What does that mean? For Collier, it means accepting she is the team's veteran. Teaching. Being more vocal. She has done this in the past; Reeve recalled a road trip in 2019 when Collier, then a rookie, was the only one to call out a player who was acting improperly.
"I get to ask her as many questions as I want and she doesn't get tired of me, which is amazing," Miller said. "Because I have a lot of questions to ask."
As a player, Collier appears ready to take another step. She is a career 47.8% shooter from the floor and 32.9% from three-point range. Her best season was in the 2020 bubble, when she shot 52.4% overall and 40.8% from three.
If her outside shooting is as improved as Reeve thinks, it will allow her the freedom to hit that shot or make people pay for having to close out. The offense will give her the space, the opportunity.
"You won't see a hesitation with her taking the three," Reeve said. "The shot gravity she now has opens up areas she's terrific in. She's going to just be a matchup nightmare."
Collier appears ready. She's in great shape. As she said Sunday, she feels like her own self again. Now it's time to take advantage of opportunity and attack, attack, attack.
"I want to impact this team any way I can," she said.
• There are actually 16 players in camp; forward Jessica Shepard is dealing with a weeks-old oblique injury and is not ready to practice yet, but is with the team.
• Kayla McBride, who is taking some time to rest after her European season ended, will rejoin the team Saturday — the day after the preseason opener — and begin practicing next week.