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Odyssey Sims returns to Lynx as a more mature, experienced player

She thrived in it in 2019, being named an all-star as she averaged 14.5 points and 5.4 assists, helping Minnesota reach the playoffs in its first true year of transition post-dynasty

WNBA: Seattle Storm at Minnesota Lynx
Minnesota Lynx guard Odyssey Sims passes the ball during Game 2 of the WNBA Semifinals against the Seattle Storm on Sept. 24, 2020, at Feld Entertainment in Bradenton, Florida.
Mary Holt / USA Today Sports
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Odyssey Sims’ head was spinning during her first day back at Lynx practice on Wednesday, but what else would anyone expect? The veteran point guard re-signed with the team on Tuesday and now has just two days to prepare to, presumably, be the Lynx’s starting floor general in the season opener Friday in Seattle.

It’s both everything Sims could have wanted, and a lot to ask of her.

Sims was still a free agent at the start of the week, and pondering life after basketball. The WNBA is so short on openings at the moment that good players are often left on the sidelines.

But right at the end of training camp, she got a call and was presented with a chance to return to the team where she experienced some of her greatest success.

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“I’m really excited. It really hasn’t hit me yet,” Sims said. “I’m getting a feel, soaking up everything, the vibes. We have a couple of new players, new additions. I’m just trying to get a good feel. I’m more than happy to be back. I love this organization.”

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She thrived in it in 2019, being named an all-star as she averaged 14.5 points and 5.4 assists, helping Minnesota reach the playoffs in its first true year of transition post-dynasty. The Lynx hope to bottle that magic again this season.

“That’s the plan,” Lynx coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said. “I think she’s even better. She’s more mature.”

That could be true in a couple of ways. Sims was arrested for and eventually pled guilty to a drunk driving charge for an incident that occurred in the middle of the 2019 season. Now 29 years old, the 5-foot-8 guard told Reeve she has grown up since then.

“I wasn’t immature, but there was a lot going on in 2019, as you guys know,” Sims said. “So we past that.”

She since has become a mom and everything has slowed down in her life.

“My mindset, my maturity level, is a little different than when I was here in 2019,” Sims said.

That maturity may already be on display, as Sims entered camp Wednesday looking “really fit,” per Reeve. Sims’ routine while waiting for a WNBA call included working out and playing with her 2-year-old son. Rinse, repeat. So she was ready for whenever opportunity finally knocked.

She played with a chunk of Minnesota’s current roster in the bubble in 2020 and has some grasp of the current playbook from her previous tenure. Still, there certainly will be an early-season learning curve.

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“Still like surreal to me that I’m actually back. I thought at some point I would be back in Minnesota, if I could. And here I am, here is the opportunity,” Sims said. “Cheryl is a great coach. I appreciate her so much, doing all she did to bring me back. I’m just excited for this year. ”

Reeve expects Sims’ maturity to show itself on the court. She said Sims, who spent last season in Atlanta, is “into her vet years.” At this point in a career, a player has gained so much knowledge form experience.

“You don’t have to do a whole lot of explaining, you just tell them what you want. Odyssey has always had great instincts, but she’s just collected so much knowledge along the way that these are going to be her best years,” Reeve said. “She knows how to be efficient. She knows defensively what her weaknesses were as a young player. She was bragging about that, (saying) ‘I’m much better at this and that.’ Great. That’s what you expect.

“The longer you play, you look back at your younger self and say, ‘Holy cow, was I bad basketball player.’ By the time you get to be 10 years into the league, you just have gained so much knowledge of how to play the game and be successful.”

The formula for success may not need to include as much usage for Sims this time around in Minnesota. The 2019 Lynx team was pretty Sims-centric. It had to be to win games. Now the point guard can play alongside the likes of Aerial Powers and Kayla McBride in the backcourt and, of course, Sylvia Fowles up front.

“We want balance. I think for me as a coach and coaching Odyssey, I wanted Odyssey a lot in creating (in 2019). Probably put too much in her direction, so anything that you saw there was probably me overdoing it, which I find myself doing with some other players that we have now,” Reeve said. “You make your lives more difficult in that way. So just a little more balance in our play-calling in terms of whose number we’re calling and when and why, I think will help Odyssey.”

Reeve noted Sims had some “really special” performances in 2019. And Minnesota will again need that at times this season if it wants to enter title contention. Sims can be a great penetrator, a great scorer and a great passer.

“We need all of that,” Reeve said.

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Sims noted it’s not her goal to achieve all-star status again this season. She doesn’t care much about that. She wants to do whatever Reeve requests of her to help Minnesota win, and bring more success to Target Center.

“I think we’re going to be a pretty strong team this year. I think it will be a great year, obviously for Syl, but for us as a team as well. As we get rolling, we do have some pieces. … When we get everybody, and can all gel, then I think we’re going to be pretty dangerous,’ Sims said. “In 2019, I already had the crowd going. So I’m going to pick up where I left off.”

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