Here comes Seimone
Wednesday afternoon’s practice was an eventful one for the Minnesota Lynx. Cheryl Reeve debriefed the media on the health status of two players, which is important considering how much of a role injuries have factored into this season. Despite losing Karima Christmas-Kelly and Jessica Shepard for the season, the Lynx have remained in the playoff picture.
Since the start of the season, the Lynx were expecting to get two players back: Seimone Augustus and Cecilia Zandalasini. Neither player has played a minute for a team that could use a shot-creator like Augustus and a deep threat like Zandalasini. Here’s what was learned from Lynx practice about each player.
Seimone Augustus could return any day now
Sidelined since the beginning of the season while recovering from knee surgery, the Lynx have survived Augustus’ absence. With newcomers Napheesa Collier and Odyssey Sims, it’s going to be strange seeing Augustus apart from Lindsay Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson once again.
While Reeve wouldn’t commit to playing Augustus in Indiana on Saturday, she did say that Augustus went through the first half of practice and that she was close to returning.
Augustus’ return could have a significant effect on the Lynx’s starting lineup. All-star Odyssey Sims was not the planned starter until Augustus had to have surgery. Reeve will have to decide whether to stick with Danielle Robinson and Sims as starters to move Augustus to small forward or move one of those two to the bench.
Deciding to stick with a three-guard starting lineup would create a crunch with Collier and Damiras Dantas, who has surprisingly become the team’s greatest deep threat. The Lynx may not want to play Collier at power forward full time yet, but would having her come off the bench be a more appealing option? That’s what we don’t know.
The alternative is to bring Augustus off the bench, which would also help ease her back into the swing of things, but the team may feel she’s earned the right to start at this stage of her career.
Whatever decision Reeve and the Lynx make in this situation won’t be an easy one.
No Zandalasini in the WNBA for 2019
This was arguably the biggest bombshell Reeve dropped. However, the news is unsurprising considering Reeve said on July 15 that Zandalasini was still seven to 10 days away from returning from nursing an ankle injury. The team seemed certain enough of this that they waived Alaina Coates to make room for her.
Yet, when forward Jillian Alleyne was signed to a seven-day contract on Tuesday, it was clear something was wrong. It was almost August, Zandalasini still had no timeline for return, and the team seemed to be holding out hope by signing a player to a seven-day contract to hold her roster spot.
Reeve cited a lack of progress in Zandalasini’s rehabilitation and not wanting to risk it given the team’s injuries already this season. The Lynx hope to have Zandalasini back for the entirety of the 2020 season after she returns to play with her Turkish team.
In some ways, this makes the above decision easier about where to play Augustus. Having to reintegrate both Augustus and Zandalasini would have been nearly impossible. This excess of talent is a happy problem, but the Lynx will undoubtedly miss Zandalasini’s shooting down the stretch.
“My team is on the floor”
This update from the Lynx helps us finally know for certain what this Lynx team will look like. We know that Zandalasini, Shepard, and Christmas-Kelly won’t be back. We also know that Augustus is coming back and Alleyne will compete for some of the frontcourt minutes. With Temi Fagbenle also back, there is no one else the Lynx are waiting on.
The roster now is largely the one that we will see make a final playoff push. If there’s one remaining question, it’s how this all comes together. We’ve made it this far into this post without even mentioning contributors like Lexie Brown or Stephanie Talbot, whose minutes will likely be affected.
From here on out, there’s no more wait-and-see with this Lynx team. We finally know what the roster will be and the fun will be in seeing how it comes together.
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