Should Cheryl Reeve start Lindsay Whalen’s nemesis?
The Minnesota Lynx knew the upgrade they were making when they dealt Alexis Jones to Los Angeles for Odyssey Sims in late April. What the Lynx may not have realized is just how much of an instant boost that Sims would provide.
Sims did it all for the Lynx in the preseason, averaging 22.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game while showing her defensive playmaking skills.
While most players can score, Sims’ preseason performance was remarkably efficient. She shot 54.8 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from beyond the arc on 4.5 3-point attempts per game. All of these numbers would be career highs for her by far over a full season.
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This is when you have to pause and remember that this is just two games in the preseason and her numbers would eventually have some regression. While all of this is true, Sims’ contributions cannot be ignored. It’s difficult for a player to switch teams and go from starting to come off the bench. Yet, Sims has thrived in her new environment.
What the Lynx should wonder is what if this continues? Yes, Sims would create a reliable do-it-all bench option but could they resist leaving her on the bench for a full season if she continues performing? That’s hard to imagine.
Fourteen-year veteran Seimone Augustus currently occupies the guard spot next to Danielle Robinson. However, maybe Augustus would enjoy not having to chase smaller guards around anymore at this stage of her career?
At 6′, Augustus isn’t giving up a ton of size moving up a position. Teammate Karima Christmas-Kelly is primarily listed as a forward and her and Augustus are similarly sized. If it works for Christmas-Kelly, it could also work for Augustus. This lineup might leave the Lynx a little small in some instances but they could also force opponents to adjust to them.
That would leave the Lynx with two ballhandlers in Robinson and Sims to pair with Augustus’ shot-creating abilities. Coupled with Sylvia Fowles’ presence down low, the Lynx could quite the offense.
Where would that leave the bench?
You don’t want to move a player to the starting lineup and sacrifice your bench depth entirely. The Lynx’s comfort in moving Sims to the starting lineup could depend on how well other reserve players perform.
Lexie Brown dished out seven assists on Sunday, increasing her average to 4.5 assists per game. Brown hasn’t found her shot yet but she may be able to get involved in other ways than scoring. Cheryl Reeve was tough on Robinson last year in this role; if she entered the game with a seven-point lead, she expected Robinson to leave the game with at least a seven-point lead. Reeve would likely expect the same from Brown as the backup point guard and may find it easier to trust Sims more quickly in this role.
Moving Sims to the starting lineup could mean Christmas-Kelly moves to the bench. An immediate benefit to this would be that she could get minutes anywhere on the wing and continue to ramp up her minutes after her knee surgery last season. However, it’s not always easy for a player to go from starting to the bench, and Christmas-Kelly has been a starter for four consecutive seasons. Would she embrace a bench role?
Cecilia Zandalasini, Temi Fagbenle, and Jessica Shepherd would add further depth.
Wait and see
It seems sensible to see how the beginning of the season goes. Finding out how much of Sims’ strong preseason will sustain and how well the rest of the bench plays should be key factors in deciding whether to adjust the starting lineup.
If Brown can show that she can capably fill the backup point guard role and Sims continues to thrive, the Lynx may have a decision to make. It seems likely that Sims, a starter for much of her career, is comfortable playing with practically any lineup. If she spent the season torching other teams’ second units, she’d probably be fine with that too.
Regardless of where Sims winds up playing her minutes, the Lynx appear to have replaced some of the scoring punch lost over the offseason.
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