Jim Souhan
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Before they descended into chaos on Friday night, the Lynx got a glimpse of Diamond Miller's potential.

In a brief stretch of the first quarter of the Lynx's season opener at Target Center, Miller, the second pick in the 2023 draft …

*Grabbed her first rebound, dribbled quickly upcourt and hit Jessica Shepard for a layup.

*Took a pass in transition and hit a pullup jumper.

*Blocked a shot, grabbed the ball, led a fast break and passed to Napheesa Collier for a three-point shot.

*Took a handoff in the half-court offense and drove the lane for a layup.

A kind observer would have stopped taking notes at that point, because the Lynx followed those promising moments with one of the worst quarters in franchise, if not basketball, history.

They would lose, 77-66, to the Chicago Sky, as Miller finished with nine points, seven rebounds and two assists, making three of her nine shots and missing both of her three-pointers.

The score doesn't portray how poorly the Lynx played in the second quarter. Facing a team expected to finish in the middle of the pack in the WNBA this season, the Lynx missed 14 of their 15 shots and committed 11 turnovers, scoring all of three points.

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve is emphasizing "positionless'' basketball this season, because she doesn't have a starting-caliber point guard or center, and her team's best players all could be categorized as wings. The offense didn't exactly take flight on Friday.

At the end of the first half, the team's most talented players, Collier and Miller, were tied at minus-15 for the worst plus-minus ratios of the game.

Playing in an offense that should emphasize outside shooting, the Lynx made just two of their 14 three-point shots while falling behind 44-27 at the half.

That performance hinted that this season will be dedicated to developing Miller, and getting Miller and Collier used to playing together.

Reeve may have been thinking that when she said this of Miller before the game:

"I don't want her shooting step-back threes, but a rhythm three where somebody drives and kicks, or there is a hockey assist and you are open, you have to shoot it. I think her shot is good enough when she concentrates on what she's doing and her mechanics.

"We're thinking about the long game with her and you have to start somewhere with that, because once she adds that, her ability to get to the basket really, really opens up for her.''

When the Lynx played in Toronto in the preseason, Reeve started Miller at power forward even though she projects to be better at small forward. Friday, she played small forward, with Shepard, a a natural power forward, starting at center and Collier playing power forward.

"She's navigating something different every day,'' Reeve said of Miller. "That's what I told her — that's what a rookie year journey is. Every day there's gonna be something new you're going to learn. Every day is a journey for the rookies.''

In the third quarter, Miller drew Reeve's wrath for failing to rotate to cover a three-point shooter open in the corner. She also drew the most difficult defensive assignment, guarding Chicago star Kahleah Copper.

"Diamond needs to be a more active cutter,'' Reeve said. "I think she stood more than she had been.''

While Miller is the future, the recent past took a rest. Aerial Powers, in her third season with the team, played just five minutes, scoring zero points on 0-for-3 shooting. She was signed as a free agent to be a go-to scorer. Either her time or her playing time with the Lynx seems to be nearing an end.

Aliyah Boston, the only player chosen before Miller in the 2023 draft, on Friday became the fourth player in league history to debut with 15 points and nine rebounds for Indiana while shooting 60% from the field.

Miller is more of a work in progress than Boston. She has a long way to go, and, it seems, a long time to get there.