The quality of an athlete’s performance can go up and down throughout the year, and it can be tough to play at a high level on a nightly basis. However, one thing an athlete can continuously control is the attitude they bring to work each day.
That attitude factor is something Minnesota Lynx guard-forward Aerial Powers has mastered. She brings an edge, a swagger, a positive outlook, and energy to her team night in and night out. Not only has Powers’ overall mindset helped Minnesota as of late but also her performance and play have sparked a much-needed turnaround for the Lynx.
Powers has been in Minnesota for less than two years after signing with the Lynx prior to the 2021 season, but she has had plenty of time to showcase that the energy she brings to the court can change the game for Minnesota.
There have been several instances where we’ve seen Powers flex to the crowd or yell on the court after a big play, amping up the fan base at Target Center in order to push the team into the next gear.
Providing energy is something that comes naturally to Powers, but she still intentionally brings this fire to the team on a daily basis because she knows it will pull the best out of herself and her teammates. Regardless of how she or the team are playing, Powers’ energy, support, and positive mindset are things that she can always control.
“I’m a grinder. It doesn’t matter if I’m coming off the bench or starting,” Powers said. “I have the same focus and energy every time I step on the floor. … I pride myself on my energy.”
Powers’ energy and mindset have positively impacted both her teammates’ individual performances as well as the team overall, helping the Lynx claw their way to a mid-season turnaround.
“I pride myself on the energy I give to my teammates,” Powers said in June. “I’m always about hyping my teammates up and what they do well. I think that brings another energy to whoever it is.”
During the course of this season, some of Powers’ teammates have commented on her ability to lift up the team when they need it most. Whether she is providing positivity to help others get out of a slump or amping the team up late in contests to push everyone over the top to grab a win, Powers has a definite presence that is felt by everyone.
“That’s just who AP is. I always get a chuckle out of it because I’m so not like that,” Rachel Banham said of Powers. “I think it’s awesome. It helps her get fired up, and in return, we’re having fun, and it’s great. The energy definitely rubs off onto us.”
Powers’ attitude delivers the statistic-less moments within a game that teams often talk about being the difference makers for coming away with a victory, and the Lynx have certainly been in need of some more victories.
The Play To Match
Since the middle of June, the Lynx have begun to flip the script after a disappointing start to the season, and Powers—with her play on the court along with her energetic personality—has been one of the leaders in that charge.
“I’m very versatile. I’m not a girl that does just one thing,” Powers said when she first signed with the Lynx as a free agent. “Not only do I bring a very high intensity when it comes to energy and just being there for my teammates but [also]defensively I’m pretty good. I can shoot. I can pull up. I have mid-range. I can drive to the rack, and I can see the floor to find my teammates.”
From mid-June through July, Minnesota put its name back into the playoff picture, moving as close as within one game back from the eighth and final playoff seed by the start of August. During that stretch, Powers has been playing some of her best basketball as a member of the Lynx and perhaps of her career.
“I’m just trying to do as much as I can and continue to grind,” Powers said of her play as of late. “I’m just continuously being aggressive. … If my shots are falling, I try to get myself going and just play within our offense. I’m relying on my teammates, and that’s in everything.”
Since that turnaround began, Powers entered August averaging 15.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 2.9 APG, and 1.3 SPG in 28.5 MPG over the 15-game stretch, improving her averages on the year to 14.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.2 SPG, and a career-high 3.0 APG in 27.2 MPG. The highlight of that stretch of games for Powers was her showing against the Phoenix Mercury on July 12. During the double-overtime win, she notched career highs of 35 points and 13 rebounds.
𝐀𝐄𝐑𝐈𝐀𝐋 𝐏𝐎𝐖𝐄𝐑𝐒. pic.twitter.com/Pa3Xb9EB7W
— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) July 13, 2022
“AP has been trending in this direction,” Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said following Minnesota’s game against Phoenix on July 12. “I think she’s been very mindful, and she’s been very coachable. Her aggression has led to great things. … That’s her. That’s her personality.”
Powers has without a doubt been a leader on the Lynx team this season. Her energy, mindset, and leadership are giving the Lynx the boost they need, and the rise in her quality of play has also been indispensable for a team attempting to make a late-season playoff push. Powers is living up to her name, powering Minnesota’s comeback with her passion and performance.
“You just have to go on the ride with her,” Reeve said of Powers. “You try not to get too high or too low. That’s a player who has come up with some big baskets for us.”
Unless otherwise noted, all stats courtesy of WNBA Stats.