Many expect the Lynx to take a point guard with the sixth overall pick in Friday’s WNBA draft — but there are reasons why they might not.
Sure, there is a need.
The Lynx pick sixth and 16th in the draft, the same two spots the team used to take future rookie of the year Napheesa Collier and Jessica Shepard last year. The former surprised even Lynx General Manager and coach Cheryl Reeve. The latter was a remarkable second-round find who got hurt early in the season.
The Lynx let Danielle Robinson — their point guard the past two seasons — sign with Las Vegas. They wanted her back, but not for guaranteed, substantial money. Since then Reeve has added combo guards Rachel Banham and Shenise Johnson to go with combo guard Odyssey Sims and Lexie Brown.
The Lynx also expect Cecilia Zandalasini to return to play this summer, a shooter who could start at the two spot.
All intriguing. But none a veteran, proven point guard.
But don’t assume the Lynx will be on point when they select sixth.
“We’re largely considered a team that needs a point guard,” Reeve said in a conference call this week. “In a broader sense, it’s true. We have gone down a path where there won’t be a true point guard. Friday that could change, but it’s not an area we find to be a pressing need.”
Indeed, Reeve appears ready to take the best player available, even if it means playing mix-and-match at the point this season.
“It could be a catastrophe,” Reeve admitted. “But it will be a short-term catastrophe.”
If the WNBA season begins late and/or is shortened because of the coronavirus pandemic, that plan might be more workable.
The Lynx went after, but failed to land, high-profile point guards Skylar Diggins-Smith and DeWanna Bonner this year.
When that didn’t happen, it appears Reeve made a choice. In the early stages of the new collective bargaining agreement, she was willing to let other teams spend early and wait for next year, when several veteran point guards could hit the free agency market.
Also, next year’s draft looks like a bonanza for point guards with the likes of Aari McDonald, the Arizona guard who opted not to come out early this year; Stanford’s Kiana Williams; and Louisville’s Dana Evans.
Besides, other than Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu — the consensus No. 1 player in the draft — it appears Reeve doesn’t believe there is another point guard in this draft certain to be a long-term answer at the position, though South Carolina’s Tyasha Harris could be tempting if available.
But if not point guard, who will the Lynx take? Reeve said this week she and her staff have their sights on three “legit prospects.”
It could be one of these five: Connecticut’s Megan Walker, Princeton’s Bella Alarie, Miami’s Beatrice Mompremier, Oregon’s Ruthy Hebard or South Carolina’s Mikiah Herbert Harrigan.
Walker played with Collier in college. She’s a 6-foot wing who can shoot the three. At 6-2 Harrigan is a forward with incredible intensity and WNBA-ready defense. Mompremier and Hebard are both 6-4 traditional power forwards.
Perhaps the most interesting is Alarie.
The daughter of former NBA player Mark Alarie, she is a shot-blocking forward who can stretch defenses from behind the arc.
Evaluating her is difficult, given the competition Princeton faced most nights; in a national pre-draft conference call ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo said Alarie was an example of a player who would have benefited from an NCAA tournament run.
But her skill set has people excited about her upside at a position that has become dominant in the league.
We’ll all know not long after the draft starts at 6 p.m. Friday.
“Our greatest need is to add a good player,” Reeve said. “To collect talent, period.”