With a veteran roster firmly rooted in the present, the Lynx will enter Thursday's WNBA draft with an eye to the future.
In the offseason, the Lynx added veteran post player Plenette Pierson to a roster geared to compete for a fourth league title in seven years, a move reminiscent of the past two WNBA drafts, when the Lynx acquired veterans Anna Cruz and Jia Perkins in trades.
This time, though, the Lynx need to start thinking ahead, too.
"Our mind-set right now is on drafting a player that can be developed," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. "That's probably the biggest want — someone who can fit, and then have the opportunity to improve because they have intangibles to their game. Maybe not quite there yet, but someone who has shown the aptitude, the desire to get better."
The Lynx have the 12th and final pick in each of the three rounds, which would likely preclude the possibility of drafting someone ready to crack Minnesota's veteran lineup. So development is the plan.
And while the player the Lynx take will be expected to make the roster, it won't be a lock.
Because of the veteran-laden roster and the attendant salary cap obligations, the Lynx are expected to carry 11 players this season, instead of the maximum of 12.
Nine appear to be locks: starters Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore, Rebekkah Brunson and Sylvia Fowles, along with reserves Perkins, Pierson, Natasha Howard and Renee Montgomery.
That leaves two spots.
Cruz and Janel McCarville likely won't be back. That means the competition for those positions could come down to the team's 2017 draft class, current Lynx reserve Keisha Hampton and Temi Fagbenie, the team's third-round pick last season.
Fagbenie is an interesting option. She was born to a Nigerian family living in Baltimore. The family soon moved to Great Britain, where she grew up. An athletic 6-5 post player, she started her college career at Harvard, obtained her undergraduate degree in three years, then transferred to USC for her final year of eligibility. The Lynx took her with the second-to-last pick in last year's draft even though she had indicated she was going to stay at USC and finish her graduate degree.
She was in for a workout with the Lynx this spring and was impressive.
As for this year's draft? Reeve is open to taking either a post or guard. But, in a draft considered guard-heavy, the 12th pick could be a player to groom by a team whose top four guards will average 33 years of age when this season starts. Plus, both Perkins and Montgomery are in the final year of their contracts.
"There could be a hole next year, perhaps, at combo guard," Reeve said. "I could say the same thing in the post behind Brunson and Pierson, being 35-year-olds."
The list of guards the Lynx might be interested in — and available at No. 12 — includes Sydney Wiese of Oregon State, Tori Jankoska of Michigan State, Makayla Epps of Kentucky and Brittney Sykes of Syracuse.
In the post? The Lynx would love it if Nia Coffey of Northwestern — a former Hopkins High standout — fell to 12, but that's unlikely. Other options include Florida forward Ronnie Williams and Kentucky center Evelyn Akhator.
The Lynx will take the best player at either position left when No. 12 comes. Since last season, Reeve has added two assistants with strong teaching credentials.
"We've invested a lot in player development, in terms of our staff and our mind-set,'' Reeve said. "We think it's a good time for that."