There is never a good time to get hurt but with only a few games left in the season, the Minnesota Lynx are losing vital pieces.
It started on the 3rd of August. Lindsay Whalen running down the court wringing her hand. It did not look good, this battle tested warrior takes a lot to show pain. To show it this visibly, something was seriously wrong.
The news was released reasonably quickly, the hand was fractured. surgery was required but the worst news was to come. Whalen did not have a timetable for return. Hopefully for the Lynx she can return to the floor prior to the Playoffs. The Lynx are 1-3 without her.
Considering the Lynx are 21-5 on the season, the loss of Whalen has been huge. Her eight points per game is down almost four points per game for her career. Her 4.1 assist per game on the season is not even good enough for top-10 on the season. This is one assist per game below her career average.
However, having Whalen in the team meant that the offense was run with efficiency and her defense, as always, was tough.
Without her, the Lynx are showing how close this league truly is. The loss of one player, albeit as talented as Whalen, has bought them back to the pack.
The problem for the Lynx is Rebekah Brunson got injured in the recent game against the Seattle Storm. This would be a huge hole to fill for any team. Brunson is the all-time leader in offensive rebounds, third all-time in total rebounds in the WNBA.
Sure, the Lynx have Sylvia Fowles who is second in the league this year in rebounds but Bruson provides so many second chance points for the Lynx it is crucial she is on the court. Fowles has better numbers but how many teams focus on Brunson, leaving the dangerous Fowles to get rebounds.
The Lynx have what would be considered a reasonably easy schedule for their full team to close out the season. They have two games against the Indiana Fever who beat them last time out without Whalen. Other games left in August are against the New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury, San Antonio Stars and the Los Angeles Sparks.
Their two September games are against the resurgent Chicago Sky and the Washington Mystics who should have Elena Delle Donne back by then.
The problem for the Lynx, unless they get their game back on, they are actually facing the possibility of falling out of the top two positions in the WNBA, missing the opportunity for the bye in the first round of the Playoffs. They are currently only two games clear of the Sparks and 3.5 games in front of the Connecticut Sun.
With players the caliber of Maya Moore, Fowles and Seimone Augustus the Lynx will be competitive. However, their depth will be severely tested if Brunson is out for any length of time.