This year’s WNBA season has been nothing short of spectacular, with emerging superstars and intense competition that will continue all the way through to the playoffs in late September. From a northern perspective, there are three Canadian women in the league this season: Natalie Achonwa and Bridget Carleton will suit up for the Minnesota Lynx, while Kia Nurse has become a recent member of the Phoenix Mercury.
From now until the end of this year’s season, we will be doing a weekly recap on the Canadian trio and track their success, while highlighting the ways in which they push Canadian women’s basketball forward.
Kia Nurse – G – Phoenix Mercury
Kia Nurse is having a very good season 14 games into her first go-around with Phoenix, and the Mercury as a whole have been strong enough to tread around .500, although they haven’t looked close to their best.
The 6-7 Mercury got a big win over the 6-7 Los Angeles Sparks in Phoenix this past Sunday for their second win in a row, and Nurse had a sturdy performance in 30 minutes. Nurse shot 3/9 from the floor for 13 points and 6 rebounds in a 9-point win, to go along with a block and a 4/4 clip from the line.
The Mercury have started to figure things out over the last couple of games, and it will be interesting to see where their star-studded lineup can take them as we draw closer to the conclusion of the regular season. One thing moving forward that is for sure though is that Nurse will be a major piece of the puzzle amongst the other big names in that starting lineup. Multiple late game clutch performances and a buzzer beater earlier on in the year prove her importance to the roster, and as she continues to find her comfort in a new city we can only expect her performances to get even better.
Bridget Carleton – F – Minnesota Lynx
Canadian Bridget Carleton has settled into her second full season with the Minnesota Lynx, starting in 7 games and appearing in 14 to start the 2021 campaign.
The Lynx have been up-and-down all season and find themselves tied with Phoenix for second-last in the Western Conference, and the sporadic court-time for Carleton has led to a minor decrease in numbers. Even in less playing time though, Carleton has shown her potential in flashes with a 12-point outing against the New York Liberty earlier in the year.
This past week however, the minutes were noticeably down for Carleton, only getting an average of 11 minutes over the two games. Carleton scored 5 points for 1/5 shooting this past Wednesday, and tallied 2 points and a rebound on a Friday night in which she didn’t see much of the court.
The talent is certainly there for Carleton moving forward, and so it will be interesting to see if she gets an increased role to prove herself as the season draws closer to its tensest moments.
Natalie Achonwa – F – Minnesota Lynx
Natalie Achonwa was only able to suit up in 8 games this season before suffering an MCL sprain, and this week Canadian basketball fans were given both bad and good news on her injury situation.
The bad news was that Achonwa was announced as of today to be out until after the Olympic break, in an injury that is clearly more severe than everyone would’ve hoped. The good news for Lynx fans though is that one of the main reasons Achonwa’s extended absence is in effect is so that she can prepare to play in the Olympic Games in July, giving her a great experience for Team Canada while making her match fit for when she returns back to WNBA action.