Minnesota Lynx Win First WNBA Championship
By: Adam Markowitz
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Minnesota completed the WNBA title run by sweeping the Dream.
It was a long time coming for the Minnesota Lynx. They came into the WNBA as an expansion franchise in 1998, and made the playoffs for the first time in 2003. Now, after sweeping the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA Finals, they are WNBA champions for the first time.
The team was built around youth in the mid-2000s, most notably drafting Seimone Augustus with the No. 1 overall WNBA Draft pick in 2006. Lindsay Whalen was acquired via trade, and Rebekkah Brunson was brought in via a dispersal draft of the defunct Sacramento Monarchs. Finally, the Lynx drafted Maya Moore in this past year's WNBA Draft, the final piece of the puzzle necessary to get the job done.
These four players were absolute stars for Minnesota this year. All four averaged double digits in scoring, and combined for 53.2 PPG between them. In the playoffs, they were all once again double-digit scorers, combining for 59.7 PPG.
Augustus was the postseason hero, averaging 22.0 PPG. She shot 52.7 percent from the field, and it felt like every single time the Lynx needed a big play, she answered the bell. She was also named WNBA Finals MVP.
Minnesota finished the season at 27-7, and only lost one game in the playoffs. The final six games were all won by at least six points, and Minnesota's average margin of victory was a whopping 14.8 PPG.
The Lynx were clearly the best team in the WNBA all season long, but they certainly weren't the only highlight.
The team that Minnesota beat in the WNBA Finals had another remarkable season. The Dream made it to the league title series for the second straight year, something that hadn't been done since the Detroit Shock were in the Finals from 2006-08. This was the first time though, that a team made it to the WNBA Finals in back-to-back seasons without winning a game in either series.
We would be remiss if we didn't give some accolades to Angel McCoughtry and Diana Taurasi. These two ladies were the leading scorers in the league this year at 21.6 PPG.
Things didn't go well for Taurasi and her Phoenix Mercury down the stretch, as they were crushed in the Western Conference Finals by the Lynx.
McCoughtry scored at least 22 points in Atlanta's last five games in the postseason, including putting up 93 points in the WNBA Finals.
There are clearly some teams that have some rebuilding to do in the offseason. The Tulsa Shock only averaged 69.2 PPG on the season and didn't have a single player average more than 12.4 PPG. Tulsa went just 3-31, but will have the best chance at the top pick in the WNBA Draft this year.
Only the Shock, the Washington Mystics (6-28), Chicago Fire (14-20) and Los Angeles Sparks (15-19) finished the year below .500. The remaining clubs all had 21-13 records or better.
The 2012 WNBA Draft Lottery will take place in November, so teams will have yet another opportunity to bolster their rosters in just a matter of a few weeks.