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2023 WNBA season preview: Minnesota Lynx hope to have found special player in Diamond Miller

Diamond Miller has the chance to be an impact player right away for the Minnesota Lynx.

Chicago Sky v Minnesota Lynx
Diamond Miller scored 19 points in her first preseason game, adding to the anticipation for her regular-season debut.
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/NBAE via Getty Images

Diamond Miller has looked really good, scoring 19 points in the Lynx’s first preseason game. I said prior to the draft that she could be the Kevin Durant of the WNBA if she adjusts her style of play to become a better ball-handler and jump-shooter.

Napheesa Collier would love for Miller to be an impact player right away because she doesn’t want to carry all of the pressure of leading this team. Collier is ranked 15th on our Top 30 WNBA player list and has the opportunity to prove that she deserves to be higher. She’s not going to blow you away with her explosiveness, but does a lot of things well as a versatile 3/4, including rebound and shoot the three. This is her team now that Sylvia Fowles has retired.

Of course, it’s not just Miller backing Collier up. Don’t forget about Aerial Powers and Kayla McBride. Powers is still seeking her first All-Star appearance, but at times was Minnesota’s go-to scorer last year. It was hard to keep her off our Top 30 list; she is definitely capable of proving us wrong.

McBride, on the other hand, is a three-time All-Star and one of the most well-known sharpshooters in the league. She tasted some success with the Lynx in 2021, when the team went 22-10 and made it to the second round of the playoffs, then mentioned during last year’s struggles how much she hated losing for a franchise like Minnesota that has so much storied history. She previously played for the Stars/Aces franchise, but certainly endeared herself to Lynx fans by saying that in her second season in Minnesota.

Collier, Powers and McBride form a legit big three. Whether it will be better than other big threes around the league on any given night remains to be seen, but it has the potential to be very good if those three can reach their ceilings. The team hopes Miller can make it a big four.

With Moriah Jefferson gone, Jessica Shepard is likely the next-best returning player after Collier, Powers and McBride. She rewarded the Lynx for sticking with her through early-career injury with 8.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and three assists per game last year. She has the chance to continue to get better and be a very good WNBA player.

Tiffany Mitchell signed with Minnesota as a free agent this offseason and is another potential offensive weapon, having averaged double-figure scoring three times in her career, with a career-best 12.7 coming in 2020. Her career scoring average is 9.6 in 209 games. Last year she averaged a career-low 6.5 points for the Fever, but also played a career-low 16.3 minutes per game.

Damiris Dantas, Bridget Carleton and Rachel Banham have all been with the Lynx for a while, and can also make the team a lot better if they reach their ceilings. Right now Dantas and Banham are on training camp contracts and Carleton is the only one guaranteed to make the team. Dantas and Banham are both more accomplished WNBA players, but Carleton has an enviable skill set that includes a beautiful 3-point shot, and she’s only 25 years old. So the Lynx have invested a lot in her, but likely want to see Lynx veterans in Dantas and Banham have success and remain in Minnesota too, especially Banham, who is from Minnesota and played at the University of Minnesota.

The Lynx drafted Dorka Juhász at No. 16 overall and got a draft steal in Brea Beal at No. 24. It will be interesting to see if either of them make the final roster.

The Lynx missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 2010. Cheryl Reeve was their coach in 2010 too, and she was able to lead the team to the WNBA title the following season after drafting Maya Moore. The drafting of Miller isn’t expected to lead the Lynx back to the Finals, but perhaps it can get them back to the playoffs and allow them to make some noise once they get there.