Lynx’s Collier quickly shows she belongs in WNBA

The Minnesota Lynx look a bit different this season. Gone are longtime franchise cornerstones Lindsay Whalen (retired) and Maya Moore (taking a year off), so general manager Cheryl Reeve rolled up her sleeves and got busy in the offseason, adding much-needed youth to the roster through trades and the WNBA draft.

Over the course of the season, we’ll periodically check in with the team and give updates on how the young players are performing on the court. From first-round pick Napheesa Collier to Lexie Brown to Jessica Shepard, it’ll be exciting to watch these players develop and help continue the dynasty into the next decade.

This is the inaugural edition of the 2019 Young Lynx Tracker.

More Lynx coverage

SPOTLIGHT ON …

Forward Napheesa Collier

Since taking Devereaux Peters at No. 3 overall in the 2012 draft, Minnesota hadn’t selected a player lower than 12th from 2013-18. Call it the side effect of a dynasty.

Last season, though, was a bump in the road and the Lynx finally had a top-10 pick once again, choosing Collier, a 6-foot-1 forward from UConn, with the sixth selection in the first round.

It didn’t take long for Collier to show that she belonged in the league.

In her first official WNBA game Collier poured in 27 points, and also added six rebounds, three blocks and two steals, in Minnesota’s 18-point win over Chicago on May 25.

Collier hasn’t had a game quite like that again, but through the first five games of her pro career she’s averaging 12.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 1.2 blocks and 1.2 assists per game while shooting 50.0% from the field and 81.0% from the line. Collier leads all WNBA rookies in points per game and field-goal percentage as well as minutes per game (30.6).

With a re-tooled team, the Lynx needed some newcomers to step and be immediate contributors. So far, so good with Collier on that front.

LYNX TRACKS

— Second-round pick Jessica Shepard, a forward out of Notre Dame, leads all WNBA rookies in rebounds per game (6.0), and she’s doing it despite playing only 17.4 minutes per game. To put that in perspective, she has a better per 36 rebounding average (12.4 to 11.1) and rebounding percentage (22.0% to 19.7%) than Sylvia Fowles, who averages 9.2 boards per game.

— Lexi Brown didn’t get much playing time as a rookie (22 games, 5.6 mpg) with Connecticut. But in her first season with the Lynx, the former Duke standout is averaging 19.8 minutes and scoring 9.2 points per game. She’s had three games with double-digit points, including a career-high 12 in Wednesday’s win at Phoenix.

— Odyssey Sims averaged under 10 points per game in her two years in Los Angeles after averaging at least 14 points per game in each of her first three seasons in the league. She’s at 11.6 points after her first five games with the Lynx.

— Damirus Dantras is back in Minnesota after 2 1/2 years in Atlanta and is off to a good start. Her 28.8 minutes, 10.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game would be career highs. She’s also shooting 54.1% from the field, including 57.1% from 3.