How do you draft for a crowded Lynx roster without glaring holes?
By doubling down on the offseason's to-do list.
Rebounding and defense were among Lynx General Manager and coach Cheryl Reeve's areas for improvement, and even more help arrived during Thursday night's WNBA draft when Minnesota selected Tennessee small forward Rennia Davis with the ninth pick overall.
The Lynx selected Davis with their only pick in the draft, as Reeve traded away her team's second-round pick last year for guard Rachel Banham, as well as its third-round pick in a deal with Indiana.
"Everybody knows rebounding is the way to develop trust," Reeve said, "and opportunity for her to be on the floor. I have to learn more about her. You learn about these prospects when you get them into camp."
Reeve didn't even chat with Davis during the draft process until Thursday night, when Davis was expected to be long gone by the time the Lynx were on the clock. Reeve said Davis, a long and athletic 6-2 forward, was the No. 2 player on the Lynx draft board.
You wouldn't know Davis slid in the draft when she leapt for joy on the ESPN broadcast after the pick was announced.
"I was surprised, to say the least, but definitely grateful," Davis said. "[Minnesota] was actually one of the few teams I didn't talk to before the draft."
Reeve was impressed with how Davis handled the wait after she led the Volunteers as a senior with 17.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.
"You saw that enthusiasm, that energy," Reeve said. "She probably heard she was going to go higher, maybe three, four or five at the lowest. I think it says a lot about her."
Davis was considered one of the more versatile prospects because of her rare combination of athleticism and size. She thrived with cuts to the basket in Tennessee's offense, while showing she can guard multiple positions on defense.
"That's what I like a lot — her length," Reeve said. "She's a legit 6-2, lengthy. I think she prides herself that Tennessee was such a tough defensive team."
Davis leaves a storied Volunteers basketball program as one of only four players to rank all-time top 10 in points, points per game, rebounds and rebounds per game, joining Chamique Holdsclaw, Candace Parker and Tamika Catchings. Her 39 double-doubles are fourth in program history. She finished ninth in Tennessee history in scoring and 10th in rebounds.
She's also the highest-selected player taken in the WNBA draft from the Jacksonville, Fla., area, where she won three state championships at Jean Ribault High School.
Davis could play either forward spot for the Lynx, and has the athleticism to guard smaller opponents. Doing a little bit of everything will help Davis crack a loaded Lynx roster that is only expected to have 11 players this season, according to Reeve. There won't be much playing time to go around.
Minnesota is particularly loaded at forward, where starters Damiris Dantas and Napheesa Collier — the 2019 Rookie of the Year — are backed up by newcomer Natalie Achonwa, Bridget Carleton and, if healthy, Jessica Shepard.
But Reeve wants to limit the load on Dantas and All-Star center Sylvia Fowles, meaning Davis could earn some rotation minutes while working on weaknesses — like inconsistent shooting — and cutting her teeth on a veteran-filled bench.
"For a young player, I think it's one of the best things that can happen," Reeve said. "She's going to go through ups and downs, and she's going to have vets right there to help her navigate more quickly."
While Reeve talked up Davis' potential, she reiterated there's no campaign for Minnesota rostering a third consecutive WNBA Rookie of the Year.
"I hope not, because that means something happened to someone in front of her," Reeve said. "I want her to have a great season, don't get me wrong, but I prefer you guys not continue with that hype. I need this rookie to come in and help us off the bench."