Kayla McBride Is on a Scorching Start for the Lynx

The 10-year WNBA veteran is hitting threes at a historic clip in Minnesota’s first 11 games of the season.
McBride recently tied Taurasi's record for most threes made (15) in a two-game span.
McBride recently tied Taurasi's record for most threes made (15) in a two-game span. / Christian Petersen/Getty Images
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No one is on a heater like Minnesota Lynx guard Kayla McBride.

She has been hitting from everywhere. The right wing? McBride is 14-for-27, fourth-best in the league. The top of the arc? McBride is 11-for-23, second-best in the league. The left wing? McBride is 15-for-28, fifth-best in the league. She has sunk two of three shots from 29-plus feet, too. In total, McBride’s 43 made threes are the most for any player in the first 11 games of a season in league history.

McBride is coming off a two-game stretch where she drained seven threes in a win against the Seattle Storm, two nights after sinking a career-best eight in a loss to the Phoenix Mercury. Those 15 made threes tied Diana Taurasi’s WNBA record for most made threes in a two-game span, according to Across the Timeline, and she matched Taurasi’s mark in five fewer attempts.

"I'm just having a lot of fun,” McBride said after the Lynx’s win against the Storm on Sunday night.

A shooting chart of Kayla McBride's shot efficiency vs. league average.
McBride leads the WNBA with a 51.2% three-point field goal percentage. / Data from wehoop

Her scorching start has been fueled by two components: a lightning-quick release and help from her teammates. McBride is shooting 54.9% on all catch-and-shoot attempts, and she has been left unguarded on 60.6% of those attempts, according to Synergy Sports. No one else is shooting unguarded threes at a higher clip.

Guarding McBride is easier said than done, and Seattle’s help defense and rotations, at times, created more problems than answers. Midway through the first quarter, Lynx forward Napheesa Collier pump-faked Ezi Magbegor, creating a clear lane to the hoop. Storm guard/forward Victoria Vivians stepped into the paint to help, but as soon as she did, she was caught in no man’s land. Collier dished to an open McBride on the left wing. Quick three.

In the third quarter, Lynx guard Olivia Epoupa worked a pick-and-roll with Collier. Collier received a pass and attacked the paint, and Storm guard Skylar Diggins-Smith flashed into the restricted area to contest. Collier then found Bridget Carleton left alone in the right corner and Carleton whipped the ball to an unguarded McBride. Diggins-Smith sprinted from the baseline and had barely leaped for a closeout when McBride released her shot. Easy three. Three of McBride’s seven treys against Seattle stemmed from the Storm focusing on Collier.

If she’s tough to keep track of in half-court sets, McBride is even harder to defend outside of them. She has hit 10-of-13 threes in transition, powering a league-best 1.957 points per possession in transition play. Four of those transition threes came in her recent two-game shooting outburst.

Her hot streak started well before June: The Minnesota markswoman shot 7-of-11 from three in the EuroLeague semifinals and finals, guiding Turkish club Fenerbahce to back-to-back EuroLeague titles and earning Final Four MVP honors. She capped her European tour shooting 43.5% from beyond the arc and, in addition to the EuroLeague title, McBride and Collier helped Fenerbahce become the eighth Triple Crown winner (domestic league, domestic cup and EuroLeague titles) in the EuroLeague Women’s modern era.

And like Fenerbahce, the Lynx have benefitted. Minnesota ranks first in assist percentage at 77.3%, the second-highest rate in WNBA history after 11 games, according to Across the Timeline. They also rank first in fast break points per game (14.2) and third in offensive rating (103.5), all while also holding opponents to the lowest shooting percentage (39.2%) in the league.

Tuesday night, McBride and the Lynx (currently third in the league) have an opportunity to vault to the top of the Western Conference Commissioner’s Cup standings with a win against a struggling Aces squad. One more record to watch: If McBride hits five threes, she will become the first player in league history to sink 20 threes across a three-game span.

Dan Falkenheim