The Lynx’s season-ending 84-74 loss to the Seattle Storm in the first round of the WNBA playoffs on Wednesday night in Everett, Wash., was a frustrating microcosm of the team’s entire season, with spurts of very good play followed by difficult stretches. Here’s what we know for sure:
• Rookie forward Napheesa Collier is the real deal. She just got better as the season went on and was named Associated Press Rookie of the Year on Wednesday. In the team’s final two games — losses to Los Angeles (in the regular-season finale) and to Seattle — she was easily the team’s best player. As Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said a few weeks back, Collier will only get better. She is a true franchise cornerstone.
• Center Sylvia Fowles — who recently signed a contract extension — will be back, but needs more help. The Lynx need to put a team on the floor that draws double- and triple-teams away from Fowles.
And here are some issues facing the team going forward:
• The first order of business for Lynx owner Glen Taylor (who also owns the Star Tribune) is to get together with Cheryl Reeve, whose contract is up. The Lynx coach and general manager, who should be in the running for WNBA Executive of the Year, took her team to the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season, a league record. There are no indications that she is looking to go elsewhere, but getting her under contract is Job 1.
• Then the Lynx need to find out what Maya Moore’s plans are going forward. Moore, 30, is still under contract with the Lynx, but she took the 2019 season off to focus on her faith and on social justice issues very important to her. Before the Lynx can begin assembling their 2020 roster they need to know if Moore — an integral part of four WNBA championship teams — wants to come back. Her return would, with Collier, give the Lynx two of the best forwards in the league and could push the Lynx back into serious contention.
• Seimone Augustus — hampered all season by knee pain — wants to play another season. Will her knee let her? Her contract is up. A likely scenario is she and the team will head into the offseason with a wait-and-see attitude, monitoring how offseason rehab goes.
• Danielle Robinson’s contract is also up. Do the Lynx want to re-sign her or go a different direction at point guard, either through the draft of in free agency? Odyssey Sims was an All-Star and was mentioned in the Most Improved Player conversation. She and Robinson were outscored by Seattle’s starting backcourt 48-1 on Wednesday.
• The Lynx’s depth will be bolstered with the expected return of forwards Jessica Shepard and Karima Christmas-Kelly, whose seasons were nearly a total loss because of knee surgeries. With those two back and another relatively high draft pick, the Lynx could be a deeper team next season.
• Temi Fagbenle showed real growth as a backup center and should only get better. Also, Cecilia Zandalasini — whose shot can help space the floor — should be with the team next season, adding further depth.