Here’s how Danielle Robinson became a vital cog for the Minnesota Lynx.
“It was really a crazy process because I hadn’t talked to my agent in maybe a few weeks, everything was going smoothly overseas and she texted me, ‘Hey, we need to talk. There’s a trade on the table.’ And then literally the next day it happened,” Lynx guard Danielle Robinson told High Post Hoops about her offseason move to Minnesota. “It was like, I talked to my agent, I talked to coach Reeve and she was like, ‘If it’s all good, then tomorrow it’s going to be announced,’ and then it happened.”
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The deal would send Robinson, a seven-year veteran and former all-star, to her third team in as many seasons. That meant a third coach in three seasons, a new system, and a new set of teammates to gel with, something that’s invaluable to a point guard. And of course getting settled in.
“For me, it might just be the moving part,” said Robinson on the worst part of being traded. “I had left some stuff in Phoenix and had to talk to them to get it here. Obviously a change of climate. I had all tank tops and shorts out there. There’s a little bit more rain here.”
“Being a basketball player, it’s part of the business. Obviously, it’s not something you want to get used to but if any opportunity to be somewhere better presents itself, I’m all for it. And like I said, I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to play here and have the season I’ve had so far.”
Robinson said that the trade that sent her from San Antonio, her WNBA home for her first five seasons, to Phoenix she viewed as an exciting change of scenery and a fresh start. Coming to Minnesota, she says, was even more excited. To be clear, Robinson isn’t smearing any of her previous stops, even acknowledging the talent around her in Phoenix. Joining a dynasty happens to be a thrilling experience.
“I was just excited to join a winning culture that’s supported so well by the fans, the city, by upper management.”
“There is no comparison, Robinson says of Minnesota fans. “Coming from San Antonio where we didn’t draw that well to Phoenix, which draws pretty well, it still doesn’t compare to the atmosphere here night in and night it out. It could be a Tuesday night, Wednesday, Monday, or whatever day we play, they show up.”
Players at each level of the game notice whether or not a city is on fire for a team or not. Minnesota fans, in particular, will show up for a winning team. No other professional sports team in the state of Minnesota has won a title since 1991, leaving the market hungry for championships.
“I hear that a lot, ‘You guys are the most-winning team in Minnesota, we love that. You bring home the championship’,” says Robinson. “We were walking down the street the other day to go to a team dinner and someone is like, ‘We support you guys; you bring home the championships!’”
Robinson is currently enjoying a nice season in her new role off of the bench. Her efficiency is similar to what it was a season ago in Phoenix and her 28 percent assist percentage is on par with her all-star days in San Antonio. Some players find it difficult to go from a starter to reserve but Robinson has persevered. It helps that she knew what to expect from the moment she heard of the trade.
“Coming here I knew I’d be coming off of the bench but I knew it was going to be a different type of role. Not necessarily for the way that I play but like she [Coach Cheryl Reeve] said, [Lindsay] Whalen might be on and might get to play 30 minutes, you might only get 10. That’s ok. I’m all for the team, whatever she needs, whatever the team needs from me,” said Robinson. “Whether that’s two minutes or 10 minutes, 15, I just want to contribute whenever I’m out there and when I’m on the bench, I’m celebrating my ass off. Just making sure I’m contributing and bringing energy in whatever way possible.”
“As I told her, it all depends on game and matchups. And honestly, what she does when she goes out there,” added coach Reeve. “There might be nights that Lindsay plays 23-24 minutes and Danielle gets 16 or it could be a night where it’s the opposite because they match up better or that Danielle is playing well.”
Robinson knows what’s expected of her when she goes into a game. Reeve says that if she sends Robinson in the game with a five-point lead, she expects at least a five-point lead when she returns to the bench. In her playing time, there are things that the coaches expect to see. Robinson and I talked a bit about this “slippage.”
“That’s something that I’ve been working on: not letting there be any slippage when I come in,” said Robinson. “Whether it be two minutes, whether it be 10 minutes, just upholding the standard that the team plays with.”
“Ball control is something that we’re really interested in with her. Ball control and play calling,” said Reeve. “Then, obviously, when she’s out there she does her thing where she can get to a small space in a hurry. We want that from her to push the tempo.”
Both Reeve and Robinson acknowledge that she’s still learning. Fortunately and unfortunately for Robinson, the most is expected out of the best. As a former all-star, Robinson is playing with high expectations and Reeve pushes her point guard hard. However, Robinson welcomes all learning opportunities.