Kayla McBride is the rare veteran who is thrilled to be stuck in the middle of the training camp grind.
"It's fun to be here,'' she said.
This is a novelty. McBride is the oldest player on the Lynx roster; she'll turn 31 June 25. She's about to enter her 10th WNBA season. But this is the first time in at least six years that she has actually taken part in a training camp practice.
Playing in Europe always got in the way of that.
After signing her three-year contract with the Lynx in 2021, McBride arrived in Minneapolis the day before the regular season began. Last year she missed the first four games, flying directly from Europe to Los Angeles to meet a team that had started the season 0-4. The nonstop nature of her basketball life had McBride feeling worn down at the end of the 2022 season.
Not this time. McBride played for Fenerbahce in Turkey, a dream team that included Breanna Stewart, Natasha Howard and Courtney Vandersloot that cruised to Euroleague and Turkish league titles. But that season ended in time for McBride to get back to the states, take the first week of Lynx camp off to rest, then jump in and start to mesh with a roster that has seen significant changes.
"Being able to sleep in my own bed before I play a game? Amazing,'' she said. "I was able to rest. I was able to go home and see my brother graduate from college. It was so refreshing. And then I came here. I wasn't just hopping off a plane and playing. I'm able to be here, get to know the team. Diamond [Miller], Tiffany [Mitchell]. Just being on the court and being able to work through things, it means a lot.''
McBride's two seasons with the Lynx have been a study in steady play. She has averaged 13.5 points, made 42% of her shots overall and shot 36.9% on three-pointers.
This year both she and coach Cheryl Reeve want more.
To Reeve, McBride's strengths fit what the Lynx are trying to do with their "five-out'' offensive scheme, which relies on players using penetration to disrupt a defense, then either finishing at the rim or kicking the ball out to a shooter.
Reeve believes McBride can be a part of both sides of that. "She's not just a shooter,'' Reeve said. "Whether it's her cutting to the basket, or attacking the basket, it catches people off-guard when she does that. Because they're just thinking about the three-point line with her.''
McBride wants to bring more, especially on defense, and from start to finish.
"There is another gear on the defensive end,'' she said. "Last season I was disappointed. Hopping off a plane and having to play, how fatigued I was at the end of the season. And then Syl [Fowles] leaving, there were a lot of things about the end of the season I was disappointed with, disappointed in myself.''
McBride talked at Wednesday's Lynx media day about how she carried that disappointment with her throughout the WNBA offseason. It is her goal to see that it doesn't happen again.
And that means she has to become one of the team's leaders. McBride said the one thing she took away from Fenerbahce's amazing season was watching the great players she was with buy-in and play together.
"It's something I want to bring here for us,'' she said. "This will be my 10th year. I know this league. I have to bring the energy and experience. We have people on this team who have been in the league, and some who just got here. We have people who want to prove themselves. And I want to help.''
Teammate Rachel Banham can already sense a difference having McBride in camp.
"We can actually, like, build that chemistry early,'' she said. "I'm really excited about that. I think it's going to show more this year, the chemistry we're going to build earlier than later.''