WNBA

Mending Mystics Capable of Late-Season Push

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The Washington Mystics have not been completely healthy since the 2019 WNBA season when they won the WNBA Finals. IF, and that’s a big if, they can get healthy this year and really become a full team, they could beat anyone in the W. They are a dark horse contender for the second half of the season.

What Once Was…and Could Be

The Mystics finished the 2019 regular season as the #1 seed in the playoffs with a franchise record 26 wins and 8 losses. Superstar and MVP Elena Delle Donne was the leading scorer and rebounder for the team, while veteran point guard Kristi Toliver led the team with 6 assists a night. Natasha Cloud made a big leap and became an important part of the team. Six players averaged 9 points or more per game. A historically great offensive team, Washington averaged the most points, made three pointers, assists, and led the league in field goal and free throw percentage. An offensive rating of 112.9 is the highest in the history of the league. They pushed that to 114.2 in the playoffs. Delle Donne was named the MVP of the regular season, averaging 19 points and 8 rebounds and became the first WNBA player to shoot 50% from the field, 40% from three and 90% from the free throw line. She battled through a bruised knee and broken nose all season and then three herniated disks in her back during the Finals. Meesseman won the Finals MVP award, averaging 17.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game off the bench while shooting 57% from the field and 50% from three. 

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Wubble Woes

After trading for Tina Charles, it seemed like the Mystics would be even better then the year before. COVID hit, and that all changed. Delle Donne had to undergo another back surgery, and sat out of the season due to the pandemic and her battle with Lyme disease. While the WNBA denied her medical exemption, the Mystics stepped up and covered her salary. Charles also sat out the season, but was medically excused due to extrinsic asthma. Cloud chose to forgo the season so she could focus on social reform. Meesseman did play, as did players like Leilani Mitchell, Ariel Atkins and Aerial Powers before her injury. They lost in the playoffs on a buzzer beater from Shey Peddy and the Phoenix Mercury.

New Season, Same Struggles

While many expected the Mystics to finally be fully healthy, that again would not be the case. The team has been pretty depleted all season long. Their one constant has been Tina Charles, who is leading the league in scoring, and only missed one game to attend the premiere of her film “Game Changer” at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC. They’ve played multiple games with 8 or less players. Cloud and Myisha Hines-Allen have both missed time. Free agent signing Alysha Clark broke her foot playing overseas just months before the start of the season. Meesseman is a free agent still, but expected to eventually return to the team. She has been playing with the Belgian National national team and participated in their Olympic games. There are hopes she will return for the second half of the season. The biggest news, though, is that Delle Donne seems close to returning.  

Infinite Possibilities

If Delle Donne returns, Meesseman re-signs and the team can stay healthy, they have a real shot of making the finals. The team hasn’t been healthy since 2019, and that team was one of the best offensive teams ever, without Tina Charles. It will obviously take time for them to completely figure it out, but the one game elimination in the first two rounds means anything can happen. A team led by Delle Donne, Charles, Meesseman, Atkins, Cloud and Hines-Allen are as good as any team in the league. That type of talent can really make some noise. There is a lot of optimism surrounding the Mystics. While all of those things could happen they could also end the season the same way they started: depleted.

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About Tariq McDowell

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