Souhan: A-Rod is buying an WNBA power in Lynx

Jim Souhan, Star Tribune
·4 min read

Note to Alex Rodriguez:

You're buying a fixer-upper NBA team.

You're buying a powerhouse WNBA franchise.

And the WNBA franchise just got a little better, whether it needed to or not.

The most remarkable aspect of the Lynx's rapid rebuild since their last title in 2017 is that they have assembled a championship-caliber roster with mid-round draft picks and free-agent signings and without waiting for, relying on or simply begging Maya Moore to return.

Moore became the Lynx's superstar, enabled their four championships, then left the game in her prime to pursue social justice initiatives. And while the Lynx have, of course, missed her, they have built a team that could contend for a fifth title without her.

On Thursday night, the Lynx selected Tennessee forward Rennia Davis with the ninth pick in the WNBA draft. Lynx coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve said Davis was the second player on their draft board. Davis is a talented wing/forward who runs the floor well, is effective on cuts, can handle the ball and get to the rim, and was productive as a scorer and rebounder in the SEC.

Some experts had Davis going in the top five, and we know what happens when a quality player slips to the Lynx since Reeve became general manager as well as coach of the franchise.

In 2019, she chose Napheesa Collier with the sixth pick in the draft, and Collier became the rookie of the year.

In 2020, she chose Crystal Dangerfield with the 16th pick in the draft and Dangerfield became rookie of the year.

The best compliment you could pay to Reeve and the Lynx's draft team is that Davis has almost no chance of becoming rookie of the year. She'll have to fight for minutes.

Here's a possible starting five: future Hall of Famer Sylvia Fowles, former rookies of the year Collier and Dangerfield, and powerhouse free-agent signings Kayla McBride and Aerial Powers.

That would leave Damiris Dantas, one of the Lynx's best players last year, coming off the bench.

Davis is at the moment, more of a luxury purchase than a need. If she winds up producing like Collier and Dangerfield, then the Lynx will have either ridiculous depth, or trade options.

McBride was the big prize of the offseason, with Powers right behind her. Natalia Achonwa should be a strong inside presence who allows Fowles to rest, and the two also should be able to play next to each other.

After Davis checks out the Lynx roster, she'll want to start practicing her three-point shooting. She shot 26% from behind the arc last season as a senior.

It is a reminder of the roster strength of a 12-team league with the best players from all over the world that the Lynx can be this talented and not be the obvious pick to win the WNBA title. In fact, DraftKings has the Lynx seventh of 12 teams in betting odds, even though the Lynx made it to the league semifinals last year without McBride, Powers and Achonwa, and with Dangerfield learning the league in the Bradenton, Fla., bubble.

With WNBA and women's college basketball TV ratings on the rise, the league needs to expand. There will be excellent players getting cut from training camps.

To pull back the camera a bit, let's credit ESPN for their coverage of the NCAA women's basketball tournament and the WNBA draft.

The WNBA is important, because it elevates accomplished women who are fearless in the face of our country's inequities and inequalities.

Alex: Your job will not be merely elevating the Timberwolves.

Your job will be supporting the Lynx.

Reeve said that Rodriguez and his business partner Marc Lore toured the facility and stopped to meet with Reeve and her staff.

"I can't tell you they knew a lot about the Lynx," Reeve said. "I can tell you that when they walked out they knew a lot more and were impressed."

Rodriguez and Lore got a bargain, and it wasn't the team that drafted Jonny Flynn.

Jim Souhan's podcast can be heard at TalkNorth.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. •

jsouhan@startribune.com