Seimone Augustus and the Minnesota Lynx will likely be one of the strongest teams in the Western Conference for 2013. - Marilyn Indahl-US PRESSWIRE
The Minnesota Lynx entered their 2012 season defending their 2011 league championship. They once again had a dominant 27-7 regular season record and made their second straight Finals appearance. However, they were unable to defend their championship, losing three games to one against an Indiana Fever team that was an underdog on paper. How could this team retool itself for 2013 to remain on top in the West and as a serious contender for the 2013 WNBA championship?
As a team with a core group of rotation players that play very well together, most of whom are in their prime, the Lynx's championship window is still very open even with the Sparks rising and the Mercury coming back with a healthy roster. However, there are still some tweaks that the roster needs to consider:
1. Try to find a backup point guard
The starting five (Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore, Rebekkah Brunson, Taj McWilliams-Franklin) has been the best starting five in the WNBA for each of the last couple years, and you can safely assume that most if not all of these players will be back in Minny for 2013 and it will still be one of the top starting lineups once again.
The second unit has some guard depth with Monica Wright and Candice Wiggins giving Augustus and Whalen breathers, but neither Wright nor Wiggins has been a true point guard per se and with Wiggins now in restricted free agency, she may sign an offer sheet with another team so she can have a better chance to start. Should the Lynx not match an offer for Wiggins, this could give them some leeway to go after a guard like Ivory Latta or Temeka Johnson if they are willing to come off the bench.
2. Try to give the backup posts more playing time, in particular for the postseason.
Devereaux Peters was the third pick of the 2012 Draft, and the Lynx got the right to draft the Notre Dame forward from the Nicky Anosike trade in the 2011-2012 offseason when she was traded to the Washington Mystics. Peters only averaged 5 points a game and nearly four rebounds in 30 games mostly off the bench, but she did have a stretch later in the season where she did have a stretch in September where she scored in double figures in four of five games played.
Given that Peters was a high draft pick, and also considering that the starting low post players of Brunson and McWilliams-Franklin are older players, Peters needs to get opportunities to play more minutes especially in the post season, where she was basically out of the rotation.
Taj is now 42 (really it's amazing to see that she's played as long and effectively as she has) and also an unrestricted free agent, so if she either retires or doesn't re-sign with the Lynx, Peter's minutes may go up by default. But even if Mama Taj returns, I still think Peters needs more minutes so she can further develop.
This same point could be argued for Jessica Adair and Amber Harris who are the tallest players on the roster. The current Lynx starting lineup doesn't really have a true center, and with the Sparks and Mercury having taller players in the center position, the Lynx also needs to consider trying to give Adair and Harris more minutes, and if they don't think that they're long term fits, the Lynx should consider making a move to acquire a center, in particular if they can't re-sign Taj.
The Lynx as expected were the strongest team in the WNBA all season long in 2012, until they were upset by the Fever in the Finals. Even though the roster as currently constructed will be playoff worthy for 2013, the LA Sparks and the Phoenix Mercury will likely have rosters that threaten the Lynx's spot at the top of the Western Conference. Still, the Lynx's roster has as much chemistry as anyone in the league and perhaps more chemistry than these other teams. In addition, with sound and savvy moves, this 2013 Lynx team may still be the team to beat not only in the West, but also the entire league.