Editor’s Note: In 2019, Nothing But Nylon created Prestige Rankings, a system designed to display the very best and very worst teams any basketball league has had to offer over history. Using points based upon various accomplishments or failures, we have ranked every WNBA team in multiple ways to show you who has truly run the show since 1997. We’re down to #1 Minnesota Lynx, but take a look at all of the criteria and defunct teams to get a good idea of how things work.
Years Active: 1999-Present
Prestige Score: 107.3
Prestige Rank: 3/23
Active Rank: 1/12
The Lynx have the most championships of any active WNBA franchise and are tied for the most of any team to have played in the league. Only the Los Angeles Sparks can rival Minnesota using our system, but the incredible run the team has been on this decade has tipped the scales just enough in its favor.
Minnesota wasn’t much for the first half of its existence. From the team’s inception in 1999 to 2010, the Lynx only made the playoffs twice and finished better than .500 in only those two seasons. At the end of the 2010 season, Minnesota only had 26 points in the NBN rankings, its best year coming in 2003, where a postseason showing, one playoff win and Katie Smith’s All-WNBA First Team selection netted a whole 36 points.
Then Cheryl Reeve happened, and the course of the franchise flipped entirely. Four championships, six WNBA Finals and plenty of other successes since her hiring in 2010 have resulted in 2,119 of the franchise’s 2,145 points, or 98.8 percent of the 20-year output.
Unlike the consistency that has the Sparks among the elite in the WNBA, it’s the second half of Minnesota’s current story that has it up there and even beyond Los Angeles. From 2011-17, the Lynx scored triple digits in our system each season. Even two decades of constantly being at least good can’t keep up with that.
But if you compare raw points, the Sparks have a 2,300-2,145 edge, illustrating the fine margins that divide these two great franchises. It comes down to our weighted system, acknowledging Minnesota’s two fewer seasons relative to L.A. and adjusting accordingly. If you value consistency and longevity, Los Angeles is likely your top team. If you prefer dynasties and dominant decades, Minnesota is your choice.
Minnesota Lynx Totals
WNBA Championships: 4 |400 points|
WNBA Finals Appearances: 6 |360 points|
Series Wins: 15 |450 points|
Playoffs Wins: 41 |615 points|
Playoffs Byes: 4 |60 points)|
Playoffs Appearances: 10 |123 points|
Regular Season Top Record: 5 |50 points|
Above .500 Regular Season: 10 |40 points|
All-WNBA Player on Roster: 24 |72 points|
MVP on Roster: 2 |10 points|
Coach of the Year: 3 |15 points|
Regular Season Worst Record: 1 |-10 points|
Below .500 Regular Season: 10 |-40 points|
Total points: |2,297|
Best Year: 2011
Minnesota has had four seasons end in championships, and although it’s close, none have scored the team as many points in our system as 2011.
After a season-opening loss, the Lynx took five in a row but were 7-4 after a July 6 112-105 home loss to Phoenix. From there, the team only lost three more regular season games and had a nine-game winning streak in July and August that settled its record at 27-7, the best in the league by six games. It was Minnesota’s first playoff appearance since 2004 and only the third in its history.
In Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the No. 4 seed San Antonio Silver Stars, a tight game throughout came down to the final minute. With 53.1 seconds to go in the game, Seimone Augustus hit a jumper worth two of her 19 points that gave Minnesota a 66-65 edge. San Antonio had its chances, but Lindsay Whalen tipped away an inbounds pass with four ticks remaining to thwart its final one, clinching the win for the Lynx.
San Antonio head a three-point lead at halftime of Game 2, but that advantage ballooned to double digits in the third quarter, becoming insurmountable as the Silver Stars knotted the series, 1-1. But in Game 3, the underdog never stood a chance, getting piled on in the second quarter and not responding in kind, leading to four Lynx scoring 14 or more and an 85-67 Minnesota victory. It was the team’s first-ever series win having been knocked out in the Western Conference Semifinals in its two previous postseasons in 2003 and 2004.
In the organization’s first Western Conference Finals, the No. 3 seed Phoenix Mercury awaited. There were no signs of novel nervousness with the Lynx slamming the Mercury, 95-67, in Game 1. Five Lynx scored in double figures, with Augustus on top with 21 and Rebekkah Brunson recording a double-double on 13 points and 13 rebounds. That trend continued in Game 2, as 21 points each from Maya Moore and Taj McWilliams-Franklin and a defensive effort that kept Phoenix’s supporting cast well in check formulated into a 103-86 beating Minnesota’s way, tipping the series in its favor, 2-0.
Minnesota faced the East’s No. 3 seed Atlanta Dream, who lost in the championship the season before, in its inaugural trip to the WNBA Finals. To start the series, Atlanta had a sizable advantage in the second quarter and kept it close after the first 30 minutes of Game 1, trading the lead back and forth through the third quarter and entering the final 10 minutes in a 62-62 tie. But in the fourth, Brunson and Whalen combined for 15 points, and the Lynx opened the game up, eventually winning 88-74 for the 1-0 series lead.
In Game 2, Atlanta led 58-50 at halftime. Minnesota chipped away at it a bit in the third quarter, but like in the first game, the fourth quarter was lopsidedly Lynx friendly. The top seed outscored the Dream 32-21 in the game’s last 10 minutes to give Minnesota the 101-95 victory and 2-0 series advantage. The game within the game was Augustus and Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry both taking over on their respective offensive ends. Minnesota’s guard scored 36 on 11-of-14 shooting from the field and a 13-of-16 clip from the free-throw line, plus eight rebounds for good measure, and the Dream’s forward put up 38 points, but the difference was efficiency. McCoughtry shot 45.5 percent on 22 shots, a normally fantastic game overshadowed by an opponent’s all-time performance.
Game 3 would be the final game of the series as the Lynx dispatched of Atlanta, 73-67, in another game-saving second half for Minnesota. Again, the Dream were on top at the break, 37-33, right in the game they had to win to stay alive. But Minnesota contained Atlanta to just eight points in the third quarter, and the Dream couldn’t do enough in the fourth to make it up. The Lynx had balanced scoring, with six players recording between 7 and 16 points, and held all Dream scorers minus McCoughtry to 45 points.
In Minnesota’s first of what would become four championship seasons, Augustus was the leading scorer, posting 16.2 points per night. Whalen (13.6), Moore (13.2) and Brunson (10.2) were right behind, and Brunson was the top rebounder with 8.9 each contest. Whalen was the best passer, averaging 5.9 assists per game. It was head coach Cheryl Reeve’s second year in command in Minnesota and the first WNBA championship of her career.
Whalen was named to the All-WNBA First Team, and Augustus made the second squad. Reeve won Coach of the Year, the second time a Minnesota head coach claimed the award.
Worst Year: 2007
Suzie McConnell-Serio resigned in the middle of the 2006 season after two disappointing campaigns, leaving Minnesota without a head coach for 2007. The Lynx hired Don Zierden, and in his first season at the helm, the team experienced its most difficult year.
Minnesota lost its first seven games and were a meager 1-9 through the season’s first 10 games. The Lynx heated up for a little, winning four of their next five, but that quickly went out the window when they beat their horrendous start with a 10-game losing skid in July. The team got it together and closed out the last stretch of the regular season at roughly .500 play, but the damage was already done. Minnesota’s 10-24 record tied with the Sparks as the worst in the league.
There was one bright spot, though: Seimone Augustus was named to the All-WNBA Second Team, enough to save the season from being the worst possible according to our system.
Augustus scored 22.6 points per game, with Lindsay Harding (11.7), Nicole Ohlde (11.5) and Svetlana Abrosimova (10.1) following her as the second, third and fourth-leading scorers. Ohlde hauled in the most rebounds per night at 6.1, and Noelle Quinn carried the brunt of the distribution, averaging 4.4 assists per outing.
Winningest Coach: Cheryl Reeve
Jennifer Gillom only coached Minnesota for one season before the Lynx had to start a new search for a head coach. They decided on Cheryl Reeve.
“We are very excited to have hired Cheryl to lead our team,” Lynx Executive Vice President Roger Griffith said in a press release. “She’s been part of two WNBA championships in Detroit, has been in two other WNBA finals, and has been to the playoffs in seven of her nine seasons in the league. She’s had the chance to learn from three of the most accomplished and well-respected coaches that have ever coached in the WNBA in Bill Laimbeer, Anne Donovan, and Dan Hughes.”
In the coach’s first year in 2010, Reeve’s team went 13-21. In her now nine completed seasons as the Lynx’s head coach, it was Reeve’s only losing season.
Reeve’s is 253-109 (40-16 in the playoffs) and has won four WNBA championships, appeared in six WNBA Finals and had the Lynx in the last eight postseasons.
She is tied with Van Chancellor, who led the Houston Comets from 1997-2006, for the most WNBA titles of any head coach in the league’s history. Reeve is first-ever in regular season win percentage (70 percent) and second in playoff win percentage (71.4 percent). Not only is she the greatest coach in Lynx lore, she’s one of the greatest in WNBA history.
No. 12 – Las Vegas Aces
No. 11 – Dallas Wings
No. 10 – Chicago Sky
No. 9 – Washington Mystics
No. 8 – Connecticut Sun
No. 7 – New York Liberty
No. 6 – Indiana Fever
No. 5 – Atlanta Dream
No. 4 – Seattle Storm
No. 3 – Phoenix Mercury
No. 2 – Los Angeles Sparks
No. 1 – Minnesota Lynx