In a WNBA offseason full of player movement, one move still managed to create a shock. When the Los Angeles Sparks announced the signing of Seimone Augustus, many fans were stunned. Augustus has spent the entirety of her 15-year career in Minnesota and was a core piece of four championship pieces.
It was in Minnesota that Augustus became rookie of the year, an eight-time all-star, six times all-WNBA, and a Finals MVP. Augustus also leaves the Lynx as the franchise leader in total points and games.
Saying Augustus and the Lynx were inextricably linked was an understatement. Augustus joined the team at a time before Cheryl Reeve, Lindsay Whalen, and championship parades. With Augustus, the Lynx began to transform from a 10-24 team in her rookie season to a fixture of the playoff picture. Katie Smith was starting for the Lynx in the last season without Augustus, now she’s an assistant coach for the team.
Augustus’ mom even cooked the media dinner herself for last season’s home opener. It’s safe to say that Target Center is going to feel differently without her this summer.
Can the Lynx continue rebuilding on the fly?
After Augustus’ departure, there are many questions left concerning the 2020 Lynx. Odyssey Sims and Maya Moore are sitting out the season and Danielle Robinson left for Las Vegas, too. This team was already in transition a season ago and Augustus going to Los Angeles accelerates that.
What’s clear is that this team is getting younger. Lexie Brown and Stephanie Talbot are the logical starting backcourt pairing, and both players’ best years are likely ahead of them. The floor spacing potential for these two is also intriguing.
Yet, the Lynx will still need to figure out who backs them up or starts. We’ve seen how injuries derail seasons and Brown and Talbot will need rest. Whether it’s a trade or draft pick, the Lynx must find a way to add depth to their backcourt.
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What will the Lynx look like?
After setting the standard for the better part of a decade, the Lynx realized in 2018 that the league had changed. Teams were playing faster and taking more 3-pointers than ever. With a talented but aging roster, teams like the Lynx and Sparks had to change or risk getting left behind.
Rookies Napheesa Collier and Jessica Shepard gave the Lynx two multi-positional players that gave the team added roster flexibility. Each of these players could also handle the ball, just like the Lynx starting Sims and Robinson together until Augustus healed from surgery.
The challenge last season’s Lynx had was this: Odyssey Sims was told when she was acquired that her starting spot wasn’t guaranteed since Augustus was still the starter. After all, Augustus built a hall of fame resume with the franchise and earned the right to keep her job.
In Augustus’ absence, the Lynx experimented with those two-point-guard lineups. This was a new dynamic for the Lynx, though the team could’ve used another shot creator.
As the Lynx position for the future, it seems safe to expect a roster of as many versatile players as possible that can handle the ball to some degree. Outside shooting also appears to be an emphasis. While the Lynx’s style of play worked for the franchise in 2010, to continue that success in 2020 they need to continue to adapt.
Could Augustus have still helped the Lynx?
Augustus will turn 36 years old, an age when many players’ careers are winding down. Augustus had knee surgery at the beginning of last season and struggled mightily in the 12 games she did play. At times, it was hard to see an all-time great struggle so much. It could’ve been easy to wonder if Augustus was playing her final games.
As Augustus goes to the Sparks, there is some optimism for her to have a better swan song. Despite her age, this could be the first offseason she hasn’t been hurt in at least two years. By opening night, she’ll also be one year removed from surgery. With rest and improved health in a small role, there’s a glimmer of hope for Augustus to get the ending to her career that she deserves.
A role where Augustus can deploy her shot creating abilities in 10 to 15 minutes per night may allow her to extend her career and allow her to make valuable contributions to her new team. Though, to be honest, it was hard to believe Augustus and the Lynx would part ways.
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