Angel McCoughtry has experienced a lot—both positive and negative—during her legendary and Hall of Fame caliber WNBA career.
She has celebrated successes, such as being selected first overall in the 2009 WNBA draft, being named 2009 Rookie of the Year, making four trips to the WNBA Finals, receiving five All-Star selections, racking up numerous All-WNBA honors, and climbing up multiple all-time statistical leaderboards along the way, just to name a few things.
McCoughtry has also endured plenty of disappointment in her colored career, including coming up short in all four championship appearances and suffering multiple major knee injuries (the most recent taking place in 2021).
In 2022, the 35-year-old wing hopes to build on her successes and leave the disappointment behind her, and that journey will take place with the third team of her career after McCoughtry signed with the Minnesota Lynx as a free agent this offseason.
— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) February 2, 2022
“I’m very excited to be here,” McCoughtry said in her Lynx introductory press conference. “I’m just grateful that Cheryl [Reeve] sees that I have a lot of competitiveness in me. I’m grateful to be a part of the community in Minnesota. … They have the best fan base. To now be on that side, it’s a great feeling.”
If Healthy, Talent Is Still There
Throughout her career, McCoughtry has been a top-tier talent that has given plenty of opposing teams headaches while battling against her. When on the court, she has been a focal point of her former teams and thrived in that role. But with injuries following her throughout her career, the biggest hurdle for McCoughtry has been remaining on the court.
Over the last few years, McCoughtry has missed large chunks of time with multiple knee injuries. During her 2018 season with the Atlanta Dream, a team she played for throughout the first 10 years of her WNBA career, she suffered an injury that sidelined her for the entire 2019 season. After bouncing back from that and signing with the Las Vegas Aces prior to the 2020 campaign, McCoughtry endured yet another major injury in 2021—her second season in Las Vegas—that resulted in her missing the entire year.
“After my first injury, I didn’t do things to maintain. You realize you have to do things after injury to maintain yourself,” McCoughtry said of her injury history. “I think that’s the difference now. … I’m motivated, my body is rested, and I’m just ready to go.”
Her injuries have resulted in some fans and others within the league forgetting the type of talent McCoughtry can display, even at this stage of her career, when healthy. McCoughtry has averaged 18.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.0 apg, and 2.0 spg throughout her career. In her most recent season with the Aces, she tallied marks of 14.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.5 apg, and 1.3 spg in 22 games.
“Just put her on the floor, whatever position you want to call her. Angel will be on the floor,” Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said of McCoughtry. “I want that same [competitive drive to win]every time Angel is on the floor.”
Even at the age of 35, McCoughtry could help any team in the WNBA if she is able to avoid injury. Minnesota hopes she does remain healthy and returns to pre-injury form in 2022 after battling back from yet another injury setback in her career.
“Everything is going well,” McCoughtry said of her rehab process and being ready for the 2022 season. “Do I think I am going to get better? Yeah. But it’s going to get there. … I’m ahead of things, and I’ve been working really hard.”
In Pursuit of a Ring in Minnesota
As she prepares to get back on the floor this season, McCoughtry is still in pursuit of the first championship of her career after coming up short in four previous trips to the Finals. McCoughtry’s aspiration to win a title was one of the reasons why she wanted to come to Minnesota this offseason, seeing the Lynx as a team that could help her cross that objective off her list.
“I want to be the nightmare for others that [the Lynx]were for me early on in my career,” McCoughtry said. “You were actually kind of scared to play Minnesota. … The history [of the organization]speaks for itself, and it’s still living on today. … They understand what it takes to be a champion.
“I haven’t completed the task [of winning a title], but they have done that. I think we have a good chance to get back.”
— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) February 4, 2022
With Napheesa Collier likely to miss most—if not all—of the 2022 season due to anticipating the arrival of her first child in May, McCoughtry will enter the Lynx rotation to try and help fill the void left behind by Collier on both ends of the floor. Minnesota will need McCoughtry to provide her lock-down defense. Additionally, she will need to showcase her versatility on offense, which allows her to score from anywhere on the court.
Regardless of the type of production the Lynx end up getting out of McCoughtry, her signing and inclusion is welcomed by her new teammates, many of whom are familiar with what the veteran wing is capable of when she’s at full strength.
“I’m looking forward to the energy that she brings. I had the opportunity to play with her on different teams with USA [Basketball],” Lynx center Sylvia Fowles said. “For her to be a part of my team and to be able to compete with her I think is going to be something special.”
Along with Layshia Clarendon, Fowles, and company, McCoughtry brings a veteran presence to Minnesota, which Reeve and the Lynx oftentimes look for when adding pieces to the team. McCoughtry is a player who has shown an ability to play on both ends of the floor, providing Minnesota with a talented offensive threat and another depth piece to incorporate into the roster.
“Angel is still so good and efficient, and she gives our team depth that I’m excited about. Just that talent, you don’t get to play with that every year,” said Clarendon, who re-signed with Minnesota this offseason and played with McCoughtry in Atlanta in 2016 and 2018. “I get to look over and say, ‘There’s Angel McCoughtry, no big deal. There’s Sylvia Fowles, no big deal.’ Just being around such talent makes my job easy. … It makes it just fun and a joy to be around.”
Even though McCoughtry might not be the caliber of player she once was earlier in her career, she is still an All-Star and a future Hall of Fame talent looking to prove herself after suffering a season-ending injury last year. McCoughtry and the Lynx hope their partnership this season will end with her getting her first ring and Minnesota increasing its total to five in franchise history.
“Everybody knows of Angel’s passion and competitive drive,” Reeve said. “In terms of Angel being in the twilight of her career, there’s so much knowledge that has been gained. … Playing against Angel, I remember having to scheme for Angel. It wasn’t fun.
“[Angel] would be a part of any plan to be successful.”