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Getting ready for the start of Lynx training camp Sunday, Cheryl Reeve took time to look at some tape, both of last year's camp and the difficult start to the 2021 season.

"It's hard watching it," said Reeve, the Lynx coach and general manager.

A year ago: Too many players arrived out of shape, led by newly signed Aerial Powers. Both Napheesa Collier and Kayla McBride missed all of camp playing overseas. Collier missed the start of the regular season. The team, already thin in the frontcourt, dealt with one injury after another, leaving Sylvia Fowles, sometimes, as the lone post standing.

Layshia Clarendon wasn't signed until the team had started the season 0-4.

"When you come to camp and you're surviving a drill rather than thriving in a drill, something's wrong," Reeve said. "I do believe [the team's start] stood in the way of us finishing as a top-two team."

This year? With a 15-player training camp roster, a determination to manage the load put on a veteran team and a group that appears to be in much better shape than a year ago, the Lynx open camp at Mayo Clinic Square with optimism.

Limited by roster and salary cap restrictions, the team will have to make difficult final decisions. But with Fowles about to embark on the final season of her Hall of Fame career, Reeve is determined to give her 36-year-old MVP center the best chance at another title.

"I'm excited," Reeve said. "I can't wait to get it underway."

With a Fowles farewell tour in mind, Reeve signed veteran forward Angel McCoughtry in free agency and re-signed Clarendon. With the veteran point guard last season the Lynx went 22-6 after that 0-4 start, winding up fourth in the WNBA.

Clarendon will get an entire camp to get into a groove with the team. Powers — out of shape and often injured early last season — peaked down the stretch, averaging 23.3 points and shooting 49% over her final nine games. An attendee at the most recent Team USA basketball camp held in Minneapolis during Final Four weekend, Powers looked to be in very good shape.

McCoughtry appears to be very close to recovery from a knee injury that kept her out last season.

But there are challenges: McBride's European commitment could carry a few games into the regular season. The same issues could keep both Jessica Shepard and Crystal Dangerfield out of the opening of camp. Damiris Dantas sustained a Lisfranc injury to her right foot late last season and might not return to practice before the regular season starts.

Collier, due to give birth to her first child in May, could miss the entire season. Should she return, it wouldn't be until late in the season.

Because of the salary cap, the Lynx will carry an 11-player roster. One of those spots goes to Collier. That means somebody Lynx fans are used to seeing might not make the final cut. There was a reason Reeve traded away her top two draft picks this year for two picks next year.

But even then, Reeve and the Lynx figure to be making extensive use of replacement players — exceptions to the salary cap granted teams that are shorthanded because of injuries or unavailable players — well into the start of the season.

That means competition will be intense, particularly at backup guard and power forward. Reeve is eager to see Rennia Davis, the team's first-round pick a year ago out of Tennessee. Davis was lost for the season early in 2021 camp because of a stress fracture in her left foot.

Indeed, a strong camp and a strong start to the season are important.

"We were always a team, prior to last season, that came out of camp being a pretty good team," Reeve said. "It took us a while [last season] to get to that team. That's not a path we want to choose again."