On Sunday, the Las Vegas Aces hosted the Minnesota Lynx in the final preseason tuneup for both teams. Elizabeth Cambage was in attendance to cheer on her new Aces teammates, but it was the Lynx who prevailed, using a 47-point second half to pull out a close victory.
Here are the three biggest takeaways from the preseason finale:
Brown and Sims asserting themselves in Minnesota’s backcourt
The Lynx made a flurry of moves this offseason in an attempt to stay competitive without Maya Moore and a now-retired Lindsay Whalen. Guards Odyssey Sims and Lexie Brown were brought in from the Sparks and Sun, respectively, giving the Lynx a healthy dose of both scoring and playmaking ability.
It certainly isn’t taking the Lynx very long to find a rhythm either. Sims — who was acquired in a trade with rival Los Angeles — was the game’s leading scorer, dropping 25 points in as many minutes. Her three-point shot was falling, and she also recorded three steals in a terrific all-around performance.
Brown, meanwhile, gave us a good look at what she’ll be able to provide off the bench. Though she shot just 3-of-10 from the field, she record 5 rebounds to go along with a game-high 7 assists in 25 productive minutes.
Brown and Sims combined to shoot the ball 30 times on Sunday. While we shouldn’t expect such high usage from the pair on a consistent basis, it should be encouraging for Lynx fans to know multiple players can create their own shots when the offense bogs down.
Aces bench remains in flux
For Las Vegas, Sunday’s game was a tale of two units. Its starters performed admirably: A’ja Wilson, Kayla McBride and prized rookie Jackie Young combined to score 50 points, and four of the five starters recorded box plus/minus (BPM) values of +10 or greater.
The Aces’ bench wasn’t nearly as productive. Everyone on Vegas’ second unit recorded BPM values well into the negatives, with the lowest coming from Tamera Young (-19), Sugar Rodgers (-23) and Dearica Hamby (-14).
Of course, when Cambage is ready to play, Bill Laimbeer will be able to more easily stagger his rotations. Ideally, he’ll be able to keep either Cambage or Wilson on the floor most of the time to give the Aces at least one player worthy of being double-teamed, thus, opening the floor for everyone else.
Lynx ready to launch?
Last season, neither the Lynx nor the Aces strongly emphasized the three-point shot as part of their offense. In fact, they were the WNBA’s two least-prolific outside shooting teams: Per Lynx Data, Minnesota attempted 23.1 percent of its field goal attempts from three-point range, while Las Vegas took just 15.5 percent of its attempts from deep.
What immediately should stand out from Sunday’s box score is the Lynx shooting 29 threes, which accounted for 35.8 percent of the team’s total field goal attempts. Brown and Sims combined to take 10 of them, which isn’t surprising.
Consider, though, that power forward Damiris Dantas shot five three-pointers in her 20 minutes of play. Rebekkah Brunson turned herself into a three-point threat later in her career — which, as a power forward playing next to Sylvia Fowles, was of great benefit — so don’t be surprised if Dantas is asked to take a good bulk of her shots from that range as well. If the Lynx are going to lean on Fowles to carry the team as a back-to-the-basket center, they need to surround her with as much shooting as they can. Sunday’s game suggests that they’ll be doing just that.