How will Minnesota Lynx adapt without Maya Moore again?

A blueprint for Cheryl Reeve

Last offseason, Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore shocked the sporting world by announcing she was sitting out the 2019 WNBA season. Moore’s decision to devote her time to criminal justice reform was admirable and many hoped we would see her for the 2020 WNBA season.

Moore revealed on Wednesday that she would also sit out the 2020 season as her focus remains on a cause greater than professional basketball. However, she did add that she was not retiring from basketball.

“Over the last year we have been in frequent contact with Maya around the great work in criminal justice reform and ministry in which she is fully engaged,” Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said in a statement Wednesday. “We are proud of the ways that Maya is advocating for justice and using her platform to impact social change.”

While plenty of focus will be, justifiably, on Moore’s work off the court, the question here is: how the Lynx adjust to another season without one of their best players?

How 2019 went with no Moore

Without Moore in 2019, the Lynx fared surprisingly well. The team’s success was in no small part to the play of the WNBA Rookie of the Year, Napheesa Collier. Collier slotted in with veterans Sylvia Fowles, Danielle Robinson, and Odyssey Sims to lead them to an 18-16 record and another playoff berth when many may have counted them out in Moore’s absence.

The Lynx’s surprising play led Lynx followers to imagine adding a rested Maya Moore to the roster. Even without Moore, the Lynx had the league’s fourth-best defense and the fit with Collier appeared perfect.

What can the Lynx do for 2020?

It’s best that the Lynx know not to expect Moore next season as they approach free agency. Knowing Moore won’t return in 2020 means they can look to add a veteran wing in free agency or allow for a current player on the roster to step up. Without Moore’s salary in 2020, the Lynx currently sit at $737,627 in committed money for 2020, with a $1.3 million cap as part of the new collective bargaining agreement.

Someone like Jessica Shepard, whom the Lynx drafted a year ago, played well in the frontcourt before tearing her ACL. This could be a great opportunity for Shepard or another young player to make a mark on the roster. Whether that young player is already on the roster or joins the team in the coming draft remains to be seen.

Can the Lynx work their magic twice?

We’ve already seen how Cheryl Reeve and the Lynx adapted to one season without someone like Moore and they’ll have to do it again. It will be interesting to see if the team continues to integrate more youth around their established veterans since it was as successful for them a season ago.

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