Seimone Augustus was joking around after a recent practice, days after she had dished out nine assists in the Lynx’s victory at Dallas. She was asked what stood out for her about that game.
“I should have gotten that 10th assist,” she joked. “I think the scorers might have messed up.”
This is significant.
Think of Augustus, and the first thing that comes to mind is still that killer crossover move, the one she’s used to score 5,250 points in 303 games over 11-plus seasons. The visual is still of Augustus, hair flying, ball in hand, breaking down a defender.
It might be time to alter that image.
Through 10 games and a 9-1 record, Augustus is having one of her best and most well-rounded seasons. Ever. Still one of the team’s best shooters, she has become one of its better facilitators.
Because of the talent around her, she is not scoring like she did in her early seasons, when the Lynx were essentially a backup band and she was the lead singer. But she is more efficient, more dangerous from more areas, and she has become the team’s best at feeding high-scoring center Sylvia Fowles.
“Syl’s success is coming from her patience,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “But it’s also coming from teammates giving her the ball in better spots. And that’s led by Seimone.”
Of Augustus’ 35 assists, 17 have been to Fowles, whose game has gone to a new level.
There are a lot of ways to gauge how well a player is performing.
Here are a few:
With the exception of her injury-shortened six-game season in 2009, Augustus is having one of her best statistical seasons, with career highs in shooting percentage (52.7), three-point shooting (47.1), assists (3.5, more than a full assist over her career average), offensive rating (111.5), defensive rating (92), effective field goal percentage (57.1) and true shooting percentage (60.4).
OK, take a breath.
Effective shooting is a stat that takes into account the value of a made three-pointer. True shooting takes into account two-point shooting, three-point shooting and free throws.
Translation: This has been a good start.
Augustus shrugged. “Our offense has been flowing well,” she said. “I’ve been in position to distribute the ball a little more than in prior years. [But] with Syl playing the way she is, you can’t deny her the ball.”
But Augustus is helping herself — and her other teammates — every time she feeds the post. Before the season Reeve challenged Fowles to become dominant. She pressed veterans Lindsay Whalen and Augustus to shoot the open three more often. Pretty much all of the above has happened.
“The way she’s playing, what she’s getting done — embracing a variety of ways to score — she’s having a great season so far,” Reeve said. “I think Seimone giving of herself in that way has allowed our team to be successful in a different way.”
Help the team, help yourself. By taking — and making — more three-pointers, Augustus has helped the team’s spacing. By forcing opponents to close out on that three-pointer she has made it easier for Augustus to get to her bread-and-buttery spot, the midrange jumper.
“They don’t know if you’re going to shoot [the three] or drive it,” said Augustus, who is shooting 54.1 percent on two-point shots. “And my midrange game is the best part of my game, and it helps me get there. They have to close out hard, so it pushes me to where I want to be.”
Reeve can tend to bristle a bit when the subject of age comes up. But Augustus, 33, has added elements to her game that have continued to make her relevant — and dangerous — even north of 30.
“As you get older, you try to hone in on polishing your skills,” Augustus said. “I feel I’ve settled into what I need to do to help my team.”