Editor's note: Before the 2007 season tips off Saturday, ESPN's Nancy Lieberman and ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel and Graham Hays each tackle one question facing all 13 WNBA teams. Here, the experts take a closer look at the Minnesota Lynx.
What makes you want to watch this team?
New coach Don Zierden dissected film of the Lynx from last season. But even a cursory look likely would have told him the same thing: Minnesota put too much of a load on then-rookie Seimone Augustus. And, Zierden said, the Lynx were "the most under-conditioned and unathletic team in the league." It's worth tuning in to the Lynx to see if rookie point guard Lindsey Harding addresses those issues. -- ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel
What's the best-case scenario for the team? Worst-case?
Best of times: While Seimone Augustus continues to develop from the league's top rookie into potentially its top player, the rest of a young roster comes together under new coach Don Zierden to lift a perennially underachieving franchise into the thick of the Western Conference race. Unlike last season, when no player beside Augustus averaged double figures, multiple offensive threats develop. Vanessa Hayden (40.3 percent field-goal shooting) is able to return after giving birth and she and Nicole Ohlde (45.3 percent) emerge as more consistent post threats with rookie point guard Lindsey Harding getting them the ball the same way she got it to Alison Bales at Duke. Splitting time at both the 1 and 2, Amber Jacobs fills a more comfortable role as a scorer and part-time distributor. Kristen Mann continues to emerge as an underrated inside-outside threat at forward, providing a perfect running mate for Augustus on the wing.
Worst of times: The Seimone Augustus Era begins to look a lot like the Katie Smith Era, with a lot of talent on paper failing to produce results on the court. Zierden can't fix a defense that allowed more points than any team but Phoenix (which unlike Minnesota, still managed to score more points than it allowed) and the Lynx still can't win the battle on the boards after trading Tangela Smith in the deal to acquire Harding. Hayden, who has only Kara Braxton to thank for not possessing the most untapped potential in the league, either doesn't return (she has said it is unlikely she'll be back this season) or fails to develop into a consistent post threat, putting too much pressure on Ohlde to carry the load inside. Rookies Noelle Quinn and Shay Murphy are slow to get up to speed in the pro game, leaving the Lynx thin on the bench. After waiving both Shona Thorburn, last year's first-round pick, and Megan Duffy, depth at point guard becomes an issue if Harding or Jacobs get hurt. -- ESPN.com's Graham Hays
Did offseason changes make the team better, the same or worse?
Better. Of course, Minnesota couldn't go wrong in picking Duke standout point guard Lindsey Harding with the No. 1 overall draft pick in April. She will run the Lynx offense like a dream. Minnesota gets all five starters back as well. -- ESPN's Nancy Lieberman