Kayla McBride admitted that some people had started to question her performance over the past year or two as she prepared to enter WNBA free agency last year. But McBride, who is in her eighth season in the league, was confident in her ability to return to the All-Star-caliber level of play she displayed in three previous years. In free agency, she just wanted to join an organization that had that same belief in her.
That team ended up being the Minnesota Lynx. McBride signed a three-year max contract after a seven-year stint with the San Antonio Stars/Las Vegas Aces. The veteran sharpshooter is thankful for the decision she made to come to Minnesota.
“It’s really hard coming to a new team. After last year, people starting saying I wasn’t this, wasn’t that, I wasn’t performing to my potential,” McBride said during an emotional press conference after last Saturday’s win in Phoenix. “Then to go into free agency and to really have an organization really believe in you and really have your back through the ups and downs, it just feels good. … This culture means so much to me. My teammates mean so much to me. Coach [Cheryl] Reeve and the staff mean so much to me.
“People don’t see all the other bullshit that goes into it, and I just keep grinding, keep grinding, keep grinding. This is why you have to go through the process, why you have to go through the journey, and why you don’t give up. I know I’m exactly where I need to be. … This whole organization has been a blessing for me. … I’m just really thankful for this organization and this team.”
McBride Hitting Her Stride
McBride, who joined the Lynx for the first time just a few days before the season opener on May 14, didn’t start the season off quite the way she had wanted to. A slow rollout for the team as a whole, mixed with some up-and-down moments personally for the guard, made it a bit of a frustrating beginning to the 2021 campaign.
But McBride kept working with her new coaching staff and teammates to figure things out, and she has gotten more comfortable on and off the court.
“I just want to come out and be aggressive. My team needs me to be. … I just want to continue to be confident and do what I have to do,” McBride said. “For me, it’s about getting to the next play. … I’ve been really thankful for coach always being in my ear, saying the right things, and allowing me to be focused on the things I need to be focused on. It’s much more than makes and misses, it’s about how engaged I am, and I want to continue to do that.”
In 16 games this season, McBride is averaging 13.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, and two assists in 31.9 minutes per game while shooting 42.3% from the field and 38.9% from three. In her last two games leading up to Wednesday’s contest against the Dallas Wings, the 29-year-old guard played her best basketball of the season.
In two straight wins over the Phoenix Mercury on the road over the holiday weekend to push Minnesota to 9-7 overall, McBride led the Lynx to their third- and fourth-straight victories by averaging 25 points, two rebounds, and two assists, shooting 18-of-26 (69.2%) from the field and 9-of-15 (60%) from three over that span. She also played some lock-down defense against one of the best scorers to ever play in the WNBA, Diana Taurasi, over that two-game stretch.
“Kayla is such a competitor. I think the up-and-down nature of her season has bothered her, but she shows up every day working, working, working,” Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said. “Obviously, seeing the ball go into the hole has to feel great, anytime you’re a shooter. … I’m really happy for K-Mac. It’s really valuable for the team.”
You can sense the last year or so has been an emotional one for McBride, but she’s glad to have landed in Minnesota, and she appears to be hitting her stride lately with her new team.
“I’m just super thankful for this organization for believing in me, believing in my abilities, and allowing me to just go out and be myself,” McBride said. “It just feels good to keep getting better, to keep getting coached and being with an organization you’ve admired for so long and having success. It feels so good.”