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Three Up, Three Down: Kayla McBride, Minnesota Lynx heating up

One of the Minnesota Lynx’s major free agent acquisitions, Kayla McBride has been shooting well from the field lately, and it’s contributed to a four-game Lynx winning streak. Is it a sign to pick up McBride in fantasy basketball?

Minnesota Lynx v Phoenix Mercury
Kayla McBride has gone 9-of-13 on 3-pointers in her last two games.
Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

The Minnesota Lynx have won four-consecutive games and are finally looking more like the well-balanced championship contender many expected them to be in 2021. During their winning streak, the Lynx have scored 108.8 points per 100 possessions, a far cry from the team that struggled to put together cohesive offense early in the season.

A major part of Minnesota’s recent success has been Kayla McBride. Acquired by the Lynx as a free agent prior to the 2021 season, McBride has officially caught fire, averaging 17 points in her last four games while knocking down 50 percent of her 3-point attempts. While the Lynx are far from a finished product — injuries have taken a serious toll on their depth — McBride’s hot shooting has given the team a huge boost, as well as confidence that its early-season woes are now firmly in the past.

Identifying players who are trending upward like McBride is important if you’re going to stay on top of your fantasy basketball game. Likewise, deciding whether or not their success is sustainable can save you from making rash decisions. Who else has been hot in the WNBA, and are their recent performances for real?


Three Up

Dallas Wings v New York Liberty Photo by Catalina Fragoso/NBAE via Getty Images

Jazmine Jones (New York Liberty)

Jazmine Jones went off against the Dallas Wings on Monday night, scoring 16 points, hitting a trio of 3-pointers and recording three defensive stats. It was the second-consecutive game in which Jones scored at least 16 points; in New York’s previous game against Washington, she dropped 17, seven of which came from the free throw line.

Outlook: Jones isn’t going to get as much run as she did last season, but she’s still clearly valued in New York as a big guard who brings boundless energy whenever she’s on the court. With Sabrina Ionescu gradually working herself into shape and Sami Whitcomb continuing to shoot the lights out, though, Jones’ minutes will probably be capped in the low-20s on most nights, and her feast-or-famine production can get irritating for fantasy owners.

Kayla McBride (Minnesota Lynx)

McBride has been key for the Lynx during their recent winning streak, though she was particularly impressive in back-to-back victories over Phoenix. In both games, McBride scored over 20 points. She also shot 9-of-13 from the field in each game while hitting a total of nine 3-pointers.

Outlook: McBride is averaging her most minutes per game (32) since 2018, but her usage rate currently sits at a career-low 17.7 percent. The latter figure might be a red flag for her outlook; as long as Sylvia Fowles and Napheesa Collier are around, McBride won’t be Minnesota’s focal point on offense. Her recent hot streak is likely just a case of a very good jumpshooter hitting most of her shots.

Isabelle Harrison (Dallas Wings)

Harrison has quietly emerged as a favorite of Wings head coach Vickie Johnson, and with the way she’s been producing, it’s going to be tough to get her off the floor. In her past four games, Harrison is averaging 17 points on 62.5 percent shooting while chipping in five rebounds and 2.3 steals.

Outlook: It’s not how we expected things to go down in Dallas this season, but after weeks of playing musical chairs with her rotations, it seems as if Johnson has settled upon the veteran Harrison as her team’s primary center. She’s playing perhaps the best ball of her WNBA career right now, so keep riding the wave if you’d like, but be aware that at 6-foot-3, Harrison might come back down to Earth against the league’s larger frontcourts.

Three Down

Phoenix Mercury v Dallas Wings Photo by Cooper Neill/NBAE via Getty Images

Charli Collier (Dallas Wings)

With Harrison eating up most of the Wings’ minutes at center, Collier’s playing time has cratered. She played just one minute in the Wings’ most recent game against New York and three minutes in a June 30 contest against Chicago. The rookie is currently playing 13.1 minutes per game and averaging 3.7 points and 3.9 rebounds.

Outlook: Not a good development for the No. 1 overall draft pick. We anticipated there being a logjam in Dallas’ frontcourt to begin the season, but it’s mystifying that the players the Wings drafted early (Collier and No. 2 overall pick Awak Kuier) have fallen out of the rotation completely, rather than gradually getting more playing time. With no clear answer as to why this is, stay away from Collier as a potential DNP risk.

Stephanie Talbot (Seattle Storm)

Talbot went scoreless for the second time this season (the first time since May 20), playing 16 minutes in a Storm victory over Los Angeles without attempting a single field goal. She did contribute four rebounds and four assists, but she hasn’t cracked 20 minutes in a game since June 6.

Outlook: This might seem unfair to Talbot, who has scorched the nets with a 51.4 percent 3-point percentage this season, but the fact of the matter is she just doesn’t have a large enough role to justify playing her in fantasy basketball. With Katie Lou Samuelson essentially splitting time at small forward with Talbot, both players have somewhat limited fantasy ceilings, especially considering that the Storm use them primarily as floor spacers and not much else.

Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky)

For the first time since the Sky’s opening game of 2021, the team had its entire frontcourt healthy and present in a two-game series against Dallas. After scoring ten points in the first game, Dolson didn’t score at all in the second, grabbing one rebound and recording two assists in 15 minutes of play.

Outlook: Dolson’s value to the Sky as a screener and floor spacer isn’t very conducive to fantasy basketball, and with Astou Ndour-Fall back from EuroBasket and Ruthy Hebard continuing a much-improved sophomore season, it’s not looking like Dolson will be playing heavy minutes moving forward.