MINNEAPOLIS - The WNBA regular season is nine days away for the Minnesota Lynx, but it’ll be a while before coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve has a clear idea of what the 2021 roster will look like.
The Lynx are working their way through training camp, albeit with a few key pieces not at Mayo Clinic Square, and they’ll get their final preseason tune-up Saturday against the Washington Mystics. It’s at Target Center, but it’s closed to the public.
Reeve’s biggest issue with the regular season a little more than a week away? A thin roster. Napheesa Collier and Kayla McBride are still on their overseas teams competing in the playoffs, and rookie Rennia Davis, the team’s only 2021 draft choice, is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in her left foot.
Collier averaged 16 points and nine rebounds in more than 34 minutes per game last season for the Lynx. McBride is a three-time All-Star. Collier is in France, and McBride is in Turkey. Once they’re done, they have to return to Minneapolis and quarantine in accordance with WNBA COVID-19 protocols.
"We have an idea, it’s not good, they’re late. So we have an idea of what we’re faced with and the decisions we have to make to get our roster set for opening day. At the beginning of the season, I think there’s going to be some rosters that are going to have some hardships to make up for players that aren’t here or are injured. Unfortunately we’re one of them," Reeve said Tuesday.
It was a big offseason for the Lynx and Reeve, after the organization reached the WNBA Playoffs for the 10th straight time. In addition to McBride, Reeve signed Aerial Powers and Natalie Achonwa.
The goal was to get some depth behind Sylvia Fowles, who played in just seven games last year while dealing with injuries. When she did play, she averaged 14.6 points and 9.7 rebounds in 24.1 minutes per game.
Fowles has won four WNBA titles with the Lynx, and she intends to compete for one in 2021, albeit with a revamped roster.
"It is go time and I think we do have all the pieces that we need to get back to place where we were in the last couple years, and that’s competing for a championship," Fowles said. "I might not have to do too much scoring because I have scorers around me. That’s a great thing."
Reeve doesn’t know exactly when she’ll have Collier and McBride back. She knows it’s not likely for the May 14 season-opener against the Phoenix Mercury. Reeve hinted the Lynx will need to sign at least one replacement player, if not more, to fill out the roster with key players out.
By acquiring Powers and Achonwa in the offseason, Reeve’s hope is the Lynx’s defense and rebounding improves in 2021.
"I always say you go by what you see, not what you hope to be. I think areas we felt like were weaknesses last year, our defense and rebounding, which is what stood between us and the finals, we’re going to be improved," Reeve said. "How good, I don’t know."
What we do know is there’s no bubble this season. The Lynx will play home games at Target Center, and 22 of their 32 regular season games will be on the national stage between ESPN2, NBA TV, CBS Sports Network, Facebook and Twitter. The May 14 opener against the Mercury will be on CBS Sports Network.