There were lots of reasons why Cheryl Reeve took aim at Aerial Powers during free agency.
There was her versatility. She is a 5-9 guard/forward who can hit a three, take someone off the dribble, occasionally muscle her way down low, even initiate the offense.
There was her maturity. Entering her sixth season, Powers knows what it's like to be on a championship team, has shown what she can do with an opportunity.
But there's more.
On a talented team with an understated rising star in Napheesa Collier and a center in Sylvia Fowles who is more of a nurturer, Reeve wanted impact. Energy. Voltage.
"In terms of her value in playing, the energy she plays with, the belief she has in herself and what she can do? It's going to be contagious," Reeve predicted. "I felt we really needed that injection into this team."
With training camp interviews being carried out on Zoom because of ongoing health protocols, it's sometimes hard to get a feel for a player's personality through a computer screen. But not with Powers. You sense it right away. After a practice this week, her first sentence included "awesome" and "excited."
She pretended to flex her arm when asked about her ability to play down low. When asked about the energy she brings to a team, she talked about how bringing energy allows players to fill each other's cup.
To overflowing. Powers is the WNBA's version of a tweet in ALL CAPS.
"I bring that energy," she said. "I'm always hyped. That's just the way I am. If you watch me play video games [an obsession, by the way], watch me on Switch. I'm just that type of energy player. And I think your team needs that, right?"
Absolutely. Of course, there's more. A fifth overall pick in the 2016 draft by Dallas, Powers at times struggled to find her place and playing time. Being traded to Washington during the 2018 season was a huge step. She was the first perimeter player off the bench for coach Mike Thibault's 2019 WNBA championship team.
Last season in the bubble in Florida, with several key Washington players sitting out the season either for health concerns during the pandemic or to pursue social issues, Powers moved into the starting lineup and was off to a career year before injury.
She was averaging career highs in minutes (29.8), points (16.3), rebounds (4.8), assists (2.5) and steals (1.5) through six games — which included surprising victories over Connecticut and Seattle — before a hamstring injury ended her season.
"Yeah, it stinks," Powers said, looking back. "I was going. I was doing extremely well, right? Giving the team what it needed. And it was tough to stop doing what you love."
Now she's doing it in Minnesota. Reeve sees Powers as one of her most versatile players, able to play off-guard, small forward, even a bit of point guard at times. That versatility could be crucial should Kayla McBride and Collier's European commitments keep them out of the start of the WNBA regular season.
Reeves also sees a player, entering her sixth season, ready to take a quantum leap.
"What I was impressed with was her recognition of her own maturation," Reeve said of the process of recruiting Powers during free agency. "Of kind of analyzing where she was in Year 1, 2, 3, and who she became when she was traded to Washington, and the impact she had there. She knows what winning feels like, to be on a successful team, to be selfless."
To do what's necessary to win, whether as a starter or off the bench.
"I love to take people off the dribble, get to the rack, that's my favorite," she said. "But I feel like I'm a big guard [she said, flexing her arm], so when I can post up against someone smaller than me, I'll take advantage of that."
All the while, being an emotional power source. Teammate Bridget Carleton has noticed it. "She brings energy to everyone, lights everyone up," Carleton said. "She makes everyone want to work harder.''