Scouting Report: Minnesota Lynx vs. Las Vegas Aces

A scouting report of Minnesota Lynx at Las Vegas Aces, June 24, 2018.

Sunday, June 24, 2018, 6:00 pm ET

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The reigning WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx (6-6) are visiting the Las Vegas Aces (5-9) for the first time this season. What should the Aces look for? Let’s discuss.

Starting Rosters

Las Vegas

G Kelsey Plum #10

G Kayla McBride #21

F Nia Coffey #12

F A’Ja Wilson #22

C Ji-Su Park #19

Minnesota

G Lindsay Whalen #13

G Seimone Augustus #33

F Maya Moore #23

F Rebekkah Brunson #32

C Sylvia Fowles #34

Overview

Youth vs. Experience. That is going to be the overall theme of this contest. Las Vegas has the energy and the fresher legs but Minnesota is more battle tested and, as is the case with aging players, know how to do more with less and find efficient ways to get results. Also, the Aces are only recently starting to gel as a team, what with injuries, new faces, new coach, and the oft-mentioned relocation/renaming/rebranding issues. The Lynx starting five have been together for quite a while (Fowles joined the team in 2015) under the same coach who has been at the helm of the franchise since 2009; they have that unspoken telepathy that derives from such situations.

On a Roll

The Aces had their second consecutive win against the New York Liberty Friday night. The Lynx won decisively against conference foe Phoenix Mercury, also on Friday night, for their third consecutive win. Both teams have momentum, but the Aces have a (very) slight edge as this is a home game in front of a very enthusiastic fan base.

Straight to the Point

There really isn’t a contest between Plum and Whalen. Plum seems to be finding her footing somewhat (though at times I”m still not convinced) and has become more of a pure point guard (someone who mainly facilitates plays instead of being a primary scoring option) -- a far cry from her record-breaking career points at the University of Washington. Whalen has better floor vision and that sixth sense that comes with working with a group of people for a long time.  

Plus, Plum has had a penchant of getting into foul trouble, which causes her to be benched for long stretches and become somewhat of a nonfactor in most games.

The Crossover

This will be a fun matchup, as both McBride’s and Augustus’ handles are perpetually reel-worthy. Both players are golden from 15-17 feet from the basket, and McBride has been getting very hot from 3-point range.

Augustus can drain threes as well, though she doesn’t do it as often.

McBride has made a career of steamrolling to the basket for a bucket (have you seen her shoulders?), while Augustus simply jukes and jives until her defender loses track of her -- then she scores. I’m excited, and you should be too.

Wings

Coffey is still finding her rhythm after returning two games ago from an ankle injury but is slowly getting to where she was at the beginning of the season.

Moore has gotten back into hers, dropping 23 points on Phoenix Friday night to match her jersey number.

Moore can shoot from pretty much anywhere on the floor; Coffey relies more on a mid-range game, though she occasionally shoots the three.

I Got the Power

This may be one of the more interesting matchups of the game. Rebekkah Brunson, the only WNBA player ever to have five national championships (and a fellow Georgetown alumna -- Hoya Saxa, BB!), is very adept at using her superior physical strength to get to the basket for rebounds and scoring, especially for second-chance points.

Same goes for the much younger Wilson, who uses her superior physical strength and speed to get to the basket for rebounds, scoring, and drawing fouls (she is currently #1 in the league at getting to the free throw line).

Brunson can also hit threes and shoots from over 40% beyond the arc; Wilson, not so much. Wilson has a nice mid-range game; Brunson isn’t as strong there. They can both block shots too. I can’t wait.

Central Intelligence

Ji-Su Park is developing well for a 19-year old rookie in a completely different country and playing system, but she hasn’t yet made it to the promised land. Fowles, the reigning league MVP, is pretty much a given basket if she gets anywhere near the rim on her team’s scoring end, and is pretty much given to deny a basket if she gets anywhere near the opponent’s rim.

But, but, but...Park has a surprisingly soft touch from the top of the key and can score, which usually surprises opponents because she seems to do it out of the blue; they expect her to roll to the basket, or post up, and she just stops and pops because she’s left open. It’s beautiful to behold. Fowles isn’t much of a shooter; her buckets primarily come from her post-up game, and she is good at getting her own rebound to convert to second-chance points.

Script Flippers

Cecelia Zandalasini has provided some exceptionally clutch plays for the Lynx of late; she likes shooting from the corner for three points.

Tamera Young is like a chameleon: she adapts to whatever the Aces need at any given time. She was relatively quiet in Friday’s game against the Liberty but took over the 4th quarter against the Seattle Storm because it was necessary.

Tanisha White and Lynetta Kizer are other defensive and scoring options for the Lynx and both can get going quickly, though both are also foul-prone. Kelsey Bone is another defensive threat for Las Vegas, and Dearica Hamby is dangerous from three-point range if she gets open. She can also drive to the basket if needed.

Recommendation

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