The Lynx’s 2019 season ended Wednesday night in Everett, Wash., at the hands of a Seattle Storm team that played with a defensive ferocity in defeating Minnesota 84-74 in a single-elimination playoff game. With a vastly remade roster the Lynx finished with the same record and seed – 18-16 and No. 7 – as the 2018 team did.
Wednesday’s game 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:
1. Rookie forward Napheesa Collier is the real deal. She just got better as the season went on and was named AP Rookie of the Year earlier this week. 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.
2. 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:
1. The first order of business for Lynx and Wolves owner Glen Taylor (who also owns the Star Tribune) is to get together with Lynx coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve, whose contract is up. Reeve, who should be in the running for WNBA executive of the year, took her team to the playoffs for the ninth straight season, a league record. There are no indications that Reeve is looking to go elsewhere, but getting her under contract is Job 1.
2. Then the Lynx need to find out what Maya Moore’s plans are going forward. Moore, 30, is 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 return. 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.
3. Seimone Augustus – hampered all season by knee pain – wants to return to play another season. Will her knee let her? Her contract is up. My guess is she and the team will head into the off-season with a wait-and-see attitude, waiting to find out how off-season rehab goes.
4. Danielle Robinson’s contract is also up. Do the Lynx want to re-sign her or go a different direction at the point guard position, either through the draft of in the free agency market? Odyssey Sims was an All-Star and was mentioned in the most improved player conversation. But both she and Robinson were no-shows in Wednesday’s playoff game; those two were outscored by the Seattle starting backcourt 48-1. I think the Lynx need more from the point guard position.
5. The Lynx’s depth will be bolstered with the expected return of forwards Jessica Shepard and Karima Christmas-Kelly, who both saw their 2019 seasons ended by knee surgery. With those two back and another relatively high draft pick, the Lynx could be a deeper team next season.
6. 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.