Rolling Out

The key to Napheesa Collier’s MVP-caliber start to season

Collier’s elite play has spread among the team

Napheesa Collier went viral for her unbelievable game averages through the first week of the 2024 WNBA season.

“This is ridiculous,” @dukejoint, a fan account on X, posted on May 24 with a simple screenshot of her stats, which were 26.7 points, 10,7 rebounds, 3.7 steals, and 3 assists per game.

Now, through the Minnesota Lynx‘s first five games of the season, she’s averaging 23 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2.8 steals and 2.2 blocks per game for the Lynx, who have the second-best record in the WNBA at 4-1.

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“She’s a great player,” Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve told rolling out. “That works well for her. She is so versatile. We saw tonight that she spent a lot of time working on her three ball. It’s good to see her knock a few down.

“She’s just got great footwork; she doesn’t make the same move twice. She’s got this touch from 10 feet, so she doesn’t always have to be on the block. She doesn’t stop moving. She’s just really dependable and trustworthy.”

When the three-time All-Star thinks about her own start, she can’t help but smile.

“I’m just having a lot of fun,” she told rolling out. “It’s just a fun group. We come out and I feel like we play every day with joy. We take so much pride in our defense. This is the best defensive Lynx team I’ve been on, and this is my sixth season. It’s so fun playing with that mentality. Obviously, I’ve always loved playing but just the energy that we bring every day, it’s really contagious. So I think it just makes you play with a different level of joy.”

Collier’s elite play has spread among the team, as the attention she draws from opposing defenses has opened up other shooters on the team, like veteran Kayla McBride, who nearly had a perfect shooting game against the Atlanta Dream on May 26.

McBride finished the night with 31 points in 32 minutes. According to Reeve, she became the first player at her position in league history to score 30-or-more points while shooting better than 80% from the field.

Also in the backcourt, as Diamond Miller is out indefinitely with a knee injury, veteran guard Courtney Williams has stepped up as a viable option at the point position. Williams, who has made her mark in the league as a lethal midrange shooter and scorer, has developed a nice connection with Collier in pick-and-roll action. Collier told rolling out the duo’s success and chemistry in the pick-and-roll just comes from both of their ability to be able to put the ball in the hoop.

Veteran forward Alanna Smith is also enjoying the best start of her career, as she’s averaging 16 points, 5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.2 blocks, and 1.6 steals per game so far. Per usual, most of the national attention has been swayed in other markets, most notably Las Vegas, New York, Indiana, and Chicago. Still, Minnesota is once again proving it’s a veteran squad that has the talent and experience to contend for a championship come the fall.

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