Editor's note: Before the 2006 season tips off, ESPN's Nancy Lieberman and ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel and Graham Hays each tackle one question facing all 14 WNBA teams. Here, the experts take a closer look at the Minnesota Lynx.
Did offseason changes make the team better, the same or worse?
How can you go wrong with drafting Seimone Augustus with the No. 1 overall pick? The LSU star is going to be a fantastic pro and should have no trouble making the transition to the next level. "We had no answer for her" already has become the standard postgame comment of opposing coaches and GMs, and that's because Augustus can get her shot off anytime she wants, whether elevating over the opponent or sprinting past her defender. She really plays beyond her years.
Overall, the Lynx had a super draft, picking up another likely immediate starter in Utah guard Shona Thorburn (made possible thanks to an additional first-round pick Minnesota got as part of the deal that sent Katie Smith to Detroit last season). Minnesota needed a point guard, and Thorburn is a good answer after helping lead the Utes to their first Elite Eight appearance a month ago. Third-year player Amber Jacobs also is a strong option and is said to have had a great preseason.
Minnesota also will benefit from adding Adrian Williams in free agency. -- ESPN's Nancy Lieberman
What's the best-case scenario for the team? Worst-case?
Best-case: Adding Augustus to a roster already loaded with young talent gives the Lynx the cornerstone of a championship contender. Augustus wastes little time adjusting to the pro game, having the same kind of immediate impact as a primary option that Diana Taurasi had in Phoenix two years ago. Nicole Ohlde and Vanessa Hayden take advantage of defenses focusing on Augustus, emerging as perhaps the most offensively gifted pair of post players in the league. Veteran holdover Svetlana Abrosimova remains healthy and offers a proven and consistent scoring threat, and Amber Jacobs, first-round pick Thorburn or sleeper Megan Duffy takes control of the point guard position and steers the ship.
Worst-case: Augustus is slow to adapt, leaving the Lynx with three or four secondary scorers and no go-to player. On an experienced team, that would be balance. But on a team as young as the Lynx, it could be a recipe for disaster at the end of games. Hayden doesn't progress as quickly as expected after a promising rookie season that lacked the consistency shown by Ohlde in her first year. Abrosimova, who has played 30 or more games just once in her WNBA career, again gets knocked out of action. And nobody seizes control at the point, leaving the Lynx to scramble once again in pursuit of fourth place in the West. -- ESPN.com's Graham Hays
As the WNBA celebrates its 10-year anniversary, what does this franchise
mean to the league?
The Lynx mean a franchise that knows the necessity of hard work. People in the state love their sports, but they also love their precious days of summer warmth and outdoor adventures. The Lynx have to work continually on selling themselves by making their basketball a product worth buying. And the franchise has to keep working to be competitive in the powerful Western Conference. -- ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel