Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier recently received her third All-Star nod in just her fifth season, as she looks to lead the Lynx to a late-season playoff push.
After missing all but the last four games of the 2022 WNBA season for the birth of her baby, Mila, she has returned for the 2023 season better than ever.
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The 6-foot, 1-inch forward out of UConn is averaging a career high in scoring on 48.4% shooting from the field. Collier has a knack for creating shots for herself around the basket and possesses an arsenal of moves in the post. She continues to improve as her career progresses.
“I don’t want to peak out now in my career. I want to get better, work on the things I need to do; I want to get better at changing direction, I want to get my three-point shooting up,” Collier told reporters this week.
Despite Collier’s inspired play, the Lynx began the season with a six-game losing streak. Over the six-game stretch, the Lynx had a defensive rating of 108.0, which is lower than any defensive rating in the league. When it seemed as though all hope was lost, the Lynx went on a shocking run, winning eight of 10 games from June 11 to July 7.
In the midst of the struggles, Collier presented herself as the leader who was needed.
“Napheesa Collier is the one we look to [as a leader],” said four-time WNBA champion head coach Cheryl Reeve.
Collier is an elite-level basketball player, but she also receives praise throughout the Lynx organization for being a likable person and teammate off the court.
“She’s so humble. She is truly so down to earth,” said Carley Knox, president of Lynx business operations.
Not only is Collier leading a competitive Lynx team, but she is also launching a new league for WNBA players after the current season concludes. The league is designed for top tier WNBA players who seek an alternative to playing overseas in the offseason.
Due to the average WNBA salary being around $113,000, many players compete in Europe in the offseason in order to earn more money. Often the players receive more money for playing overseas than they do for playing in the WNBA, although it’s challenging to maintain a brand when playing overseas.
“When we go overseas, our marketing goes so down,” Collier said on “The Real Deal Podcast.” “It’s like you don’t hear from us for half of the year.”
Collier and her business partner and former UConn teammate Breanna Stewart are looking to evolve women’s basketball by allowing players the opportunity to make money while staying in the United States in the offseason.
“I don’t think there’s any player that wouldn’t be excited about playing at home, while making money, growing your game and your marketing,” Collier said.
This story was produced in partnership with the Minnesota Lynx and Star Tribune Junior Reporter program, which brought five ThreeSixty Journalism students attending the Sports Reporting Workshop students courtside on gameday.