Judging from the enthusiasm emanating from the screen during one Zoom news conference, here's one opinion: The Lynx have added a whole lot of energy to their lineup with the signing of free agent Aerial Powers.
Powers talked at length about her decision to join the Lynx on Tuesday. Well, actually, she talked at some length about a lot of things, including her commitment to social justice and her intense participation in gaming, particularly NBA 2K.
But most of that energy was directed toward the team she will join this summer, the team she saw overcome the loss of center Sylvia Fowles in the WNBA bubble last year, the players she saw working hard for each other.
Oh, and the person in charge.
That would be Lynx coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve, with whom Powers said she felt a strong connection.
“I felt the same way being recruited [as a free agent] by Reeve as I did when I was being recruited at Michigan State. That's hard to come by.”
"The championships speak for themselves," Powers said. "I know they have had that culture. But top dog, Coach Reeve, makes sure that order stays in line. That's important to me."
Both sides, it appears, did their homework. As part of the plan to woo Powers to Minnesota, Reeve sent Powers a custom game controller, one she showed off during the call. As a player who has won one title with Washington and craves more, Powers saw a lineup — and a culture — that could make that happen with a lineup that includes Fowles, Napheesa Collier and Crystal Dangerfield, among others.
"For me, when it came to Syl, to Napheesa, [Damiris] Dantas, Dangerfield, the rookie of the year … I was looking at all these great players thinking, 'OK, we got something here,' " Powers said. "It's not about 'I,' it's about 'we.' "
Actually, it was also about "them."
Powers said the way she connected with Reeve played a huge part of her decision. She said she formed a connection she hadn't had with a coach since her playing days for coach Suzy Merchant at Michigan State.
"It wasn't a specific thing, it was a feeling I got from talking with Coach Reeve," Powers said. "I've talked with many coaches throughout my life, [and] the only coach I had a really good connection with [before Reeve] was Coach Merchant. I felt the same way being recruited [as a free agent] by Reeve as I did when I was being recruited at Michigan State. That's hard to come by."
Reeve said she's had her eye on Powers since she came out of college, when she was drafted by Dallas with the fifth overall pick in 2016. She said she saw Powers grow as a player and person, a process that accelerated in Washington.
"She has a great skill set," Reeve said. "She'll put her body on the line for you. She doesn't think only of herself."
By signing the 5-9 Powers — along with acquiring Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa in free agency earlier this month — the Lynx have upgraded their roster. Achonwa will add depth in the post. McBride and Powers are physical, dynamic guards/wings who can score in a variety of ways, including posting up smaller guards. Their versatility also will allow more switching on defense.
Entering her sixth season, Powers was a key player off the bench during Washington's title season in 2019, averaging 11.4 points. Last year she was off to a career year, averaging 16.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists through six games as a starter, before a hamstring injury ended her season.
Now, she said, she's healthy. And ready. She was loving the idea of coming to the Lynx when, during free agency, Reeve told her there was a good chance she'd be signing McBride and Achonwa, too.
"It was, 'Where do I sign?' " Powers said. "It was like, how can we not win the championship?"