AP NEWS

Lynx acquire three-time All-Star guard Danielle Robinson in first-round draft pick trade with Phoenix Mercury

March 6, 2018 GMT

In one move Tuesday, the Minnesota Lynx added a whole lot of experience and speed to their backcourt.

Needing to shore up depth entering the 2018 season, the Lynx acquired veteran point guard Danielle Robinson in a trade with the Phoenix Mercury. Minnesota sent its first-round pick in this year’s draft (No. 12 overall) to Phoenix, getting the 28-year-old Robinson and the Mercury’s 2019 second-round pick in return.

So coach/general manager Cheryl Reeve will have to wait a little longer to make a pick in April’s draft. But she has the peace of mind in knowing she had identified a true point guard backup to starter Lindsay Whalen.

“You never make trades lightly,” Reeve said. “But it was an easy decision. We got to the point where, there might have been a decent player at 12, but not anyone better than Danielle.”

The Lynx have spent the off-season trying to restore depth to the bench, where the top four players from last year’s title team were lost, including backup guards Renee Montgomery (to Atlanta in free agency) and Jia Perkins (to retirement).

In Robinson, the Lynx will get a player far different than Montgomery, but one Reeve thinks can be just as effective.

“She’ll force our team to run more, which I want,” Reeve said. “And they’ll run with her. She will be collapsing defenses, and there will be opportunities (for her teammates).”

Robinson is one of seven active players — Lindsay Whalen is another — with career averages of at least nine points and four assist per game with a minimum of 40 games played. Robinson, who has started 160 of 188 WNBA games, has career averages of 9.7 points, 45.5 percent shooting, 4.7 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 22.4 minutes per game.

A first-round pick by San Antonio after playing at the University of Oklahoma, she was named to three straight All Star Games starting in 2013.

Reeve can pencil Robinson in as Whalen’s primary backup, with second-year combo guard Alexis Jones also able to play the point.

Robinson might be the speediest player Reeve has coached in a Lynx uniform. “It’s the pace of play she creates,” Reeve said. “She gets end to end faster than most players in the league. She has a way about her in terms of activity. She’s a cutter on offense, and on defense she’s very active both on and off the ball.”

She is far different than Montgomery. Robinson doesn’t have the range Montgomery had — she has never hit a WNBA three-pointer in 33 attempts. But Robinson will likely be steadier on defense and her ability to attack the rim and collapse defenses will create three-point opportunities for her teammates.

Robinson is two years removed from right Achilles tendon surgery that kept her out of the 2016 WNBA season. She played the 2015 season in constant pain, affecting her game. Then she injured the tendon further while playing overseas and had surgery in March of 2016. Signed as a free agent by Phoenix before last season, she started 29 of 32 games for the Mercury.

Reeve said she’s looking forward to harnessing Robinson’s speed and fitting it into the Lynx offense. With Minnesota, Robinson will have to pick her spots to utilize her speed.

“She is someone we want to have as part of our future,” Reeve said. “This is not a short-term thing. Not stop-gap. This is someone we want in our franchse.”