Sims, Collier have Lynx off to promising start

There has been plenty of learning and adjusting early on, but the Minnesota Lynx appear to have weathered life without Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore and Rebekkah Brunson.

Without three of their top players from last season and their stretch of WNBA titles, the Lynx have put some new faces into the fold. The one remaining veteran from last year, Sylvia Fowles, has done her part. But the Lynx have relied on Odyssey Sims and Danielle Robinson to take over the backcourt, and rookie Napheesa Collier to do a little bit of everything.

The Lynx are 8-6 through 14 games, fourth in the WNBA and got a 74-71 win at Connecticut on Saturday. The Sun (9-5) are the No. 2 team in the league, behind the Washington Mystics. The Lynx trailed 58-54 entering the fourth quarter, and out-scored the Sun 20-13 over the final 10 minutes to earn a pivotal road win.

"Winning a game on the road, the mental toughness. I told them that was an exceptional game. There were a couple times when I thought it was about to go the wrong way, and they just answered it," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said.

One of those new faces that has stepped up is Sims. With injuries to Jessica Shepard, Seimone Augustus and Karima Christmas-Kelly, Sims has more than shouldered the load. She's been tough to take off the court, averaging at least 34 minutes per game in six of the last seven games as the Lynx have won four of their past five.

She's also scored at least 20 points in four of the last five games, including 21 in Saturday's win at Connecticut. Sims is currently sixth in the league in scoring through 14 games, averaging 16.2 points per game.

"That's what we told her when she got here, that we would need her to score. Told her to look around, look who's not here. This is a perfect time for this transition for her to a new team and she's embraced that," Reeve said.

She's also finding open teammates. She's the first Lynx player since Whalen in 2012 to record at least eight assists in three straight games. She's averaging 5.7 assists per game for the season, and Reeve said there's not another guard in the league right now that's putting up the numbers Sims has.

It might get her to the WNBA All-Star Game, but Sims isn't even letting that enter her thought process.

"It would mean a lot but at the same time that's at the end of July. We've still got games, we've still got things that we need to get done and that's more important to me right now before All-Star hits," Sims said.

They've also gotten a standout season from rookie Napheesa Collier, who has been pulled in multiple directions with the injuries to Augustus, Shepard and Christmas-Kelly. Collier, a former UConn star, started her pro career in style with 27 points in a win over the Chicago Sky.

For the season, Collier is third on the Lynx in scoring at 11.6 points per game. She's also averaging 5.7 rebounds per game and has switched to power forward with the team's injuries. Reeve is hoping to get her back to small forward soon, as Temi Fagbenle will return after playing for Great Britain in the EuroBasket Tournament.

As for Collier, the No. 6 overall pick couldn't have asked for a much better start. She's also in consideration for a WNBA All-Star bid.

"That's what we thought we were getting. I think it's how quickly she gets things. There's not many rookies that get things so quickly, and you tell her one time," Reeve said.

The Lynx travel to Chicago to face the Sky Wednesay night. Chicago is one game behind the Lynx in the WNBA standings.