Two-time WNBA All-Star Napheesa Collier won’t be on the court on Friday night when her Minnesota Lynx visit the Seattle Storm in the season opener for both teams.
Collier, who won an Olympic gold medal with Team USA last summer, is pregnant and expecting later this month.
“I wish I could be there to see the team, be there with them in person, cheering them on,” said Collier, who earlier this month signed a three-year contract extension. “But it’s too close to the due date.”
Lynx GM/coach Cheryl Reeve said Collier will be missed.
“She can do things you can’t coach,” Reeve said. “It will be a challenge to play without her.”
That’s especially true in games against title contenders such as the Storm, who are led by two-time WNBA Finals MVP Breanna Stewart, 12-time All-Star Sue Bird and three-time All-Star Jewell Loyd.
Noelle Quinn, set to start her first full season as Seattle’s coach, said Bird and Stewart have erased any questions about their fitness with their strong preseason work. Stewart is coming off an injury at the end of last season that required surgery on her left foot, and Bird is 41.
“She’s in great shape,” Quinn said of Bird. “Defensively, she’s moving well. Offensively sharp. Knocking down shots.
“(Stewart) looks strong and active on defense. Her shot looks great.”
Both the Storm and Lynx are four-time league champions. Seattle won championships in 2020 and 2018, both coming more recently than when Minnesota last lifted the trophy in 2017.
With Collier out, Minnesota will rely on 6-foot-6 center Sylvia Fowles and 5-foot-11 guard Kayla McBride.
Fowles, the WNBA’s career leader in rebounds, has said she will retire after this season. She’s a two-time league champ and a two-time WNBA Finals MVP. Fowles, 36, won her fourth Defensive Player of the Year award last season and made 64 percent of her shots.
McBride averaged 13.7 points last season. Among the league’s double-figure scorers, she ranked 12th in true shooting percentage (58.6).
–Field Level Media