The Minnesota Lynx have enjoyed a strong start to the 2024 WNBA season, leading the Western Conference with a 12-3 record. Their success has been driven by standout performances from Napheesa Collier and Kayla McBride. Collier, averaging 20.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, per ESPN, continues to be a force on both ends of the court, while McBride has stepped up as a key leader and reliable scorer, averaging 16. 5 points per game. However, despite Minnesota's impressive form, the biggest threat to their dominance in the West isn't the struggling Las Vegas Aces, but rather the resurgent Seattle Storm.

The Storm trail the Lynx in second place in the WNBA Western Conference standings with a 9-6 record so far.

Seattle Storm's offseason moves

The Storm made significant roster enhancements in the offseason that have already started to pay dividends. They added All-WNBA talents Nneka Ogwumike and Skylar Diggins-Smith, both of whom bring extensive experience and high-level performance to the team. Ogwumike, coming off a season where she averaged 19.1 points and 8.8 rebounds, and Diggins-Smith, a prolific scorer and playmaker, have seamlessly integrated into the team dynamics. Ogwumike is averaging 18.1 points per game, while Diggins-Smith is averaging 14.9 points per game.

Ezi Magbegor's defensive impact

Seattle Storm center Ezi Magbegor (13) dribbles the ball against the Phoenix Mercury during the second half.
© Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Central to the Storm's threat is Ezi Magbegor, whose defensive capabilities and rebounding prowess have been pivotal. Magbegor, named to the WNBA All-Defensive Team last season, averages 2.6 blocks and 9.6 rebounds per game. Her ability to control the paint and contribute offensively makes her an invaluable asset for Seattle.

Bouncing back from slow season start

Despite a slow start to the Storm's season, they are now fourth place overall in the league with a 9-6 record, highlighting the effectiveness of their new additions. Jewell Loyd continues to be a scoring machine, breaking records and maintaining her status as one of the league's top players. She is averaging 18.5 points per game. The synergy between Loyd, Ogwumike and Diggins-Smith has created a formidable trio that is difficult for opponents to contain.

Seattle's depth further enhances their threat level. Players like Sami Whitcomb (averaging 4.7 points and 1.7 rebounds across 16.1 minutes of gameplay so far this season) and Mercedes Russell (four points per game, 3.1 rebounds, 16.3 minutes of gameplay) provide significant contributions off the bench, ensuring that the team maintains high performance even when the starters rest. Whitcomb's sharp shooting and Russell's defensive presence add layers of versatility and resilience to the squad.

Seattle opened the season with high expectations and has delivered, sitting on a .600 record for the season so far. The team has had strong performances both offensively and defensively, with contributions coming from various players on the roster, enhancing the team's overall depth.

Minnesota Lynx's challenges

Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier (24) dribbles the ball against Las Vegas Aces center Kiah Stokes (41) during the second quarter.
© Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

The Lynx, despite their strong record, have shown vulnerabilities. In their recent win June 19 against the Atlanta Dream, they managed to secure a victory more through grit than offensive finesse. Minnesota recorded its lowest shooting percentage of the season at 35.5%, converting just 27 of 76 attempts. Their three-point shooting also faltered, hitting only seven of 22 shots. Collier acknowledged the role of luck in their success, emphasizing the need for improvement.

Collier's shooting woes have been a recent trend, as she has hit just 11 of her last 34 field-goal attempts and missed all 12 three-point shots in her past three games. Despite this, her leadership and contributions in other areas have been crucial. Bridget Carleton's late-game heroics and strong bench performances have also been pivotal in securing victories.

“I know I have a heavy responsibility on my shoulders,” Collier said after the Dream game. “When I'm not performing in one area, I have to step it up in other areas.”

“It's important to be disappointed with some things but still win the game,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve added.

History in Lynx's favor vs. the Storm

The head-to-head matchups between the Lynx and Storm will be crucial in determining who dominates the West. The Storm's balanced attack and strong defense will pose a challenge to the Lynx if Minnesota is unable to address their inconsistencies and leverage their home-court advantage in critical games.

The Lynx's next game is Saturday vs. the Phoenix Mercury. They will play the New York Liberty in the Commissioner's Cup June 25. The Storm play Sunday vs. the Connecticut Sun.

History is in the Lynx's favor for their next game vs. the Storm in Seattle on July 12. The two teams have played each other three times so far this season. In fact, Seattle's home opener on May 14 was against the Lynx, which the Storm lost 83-70. The Lynx also beat the Storm 102-93 in an overtime win May 17, and again 83-64 on June 9.