With an abundance of talent acquired during the offseason, great things are expected of the Washington Mystics this year.
Record last season: 13-21
Finished last in the Eastern Conference
Projected Starters/ Potential Subs:
Kristi Toliver/ Ivory Latta
Tayler Hill/ Shatori Walker-Kimbrough/ Tierra Ruffin-Pratt
Natasha Cloud/ Asia Taylor
Elena Delle Donne/ Tianna Hawkins/ Ally Mallot
Emma Meesseman/ Krytstal Thomas
With all the offseason moves in D.C., the Washington Mystics disappointing 2016 season feels inept to talk about when looking ahead to their immediate future. In arguably one if the biggest trades in WNBA history, the Mystics landed former MVP and 2013 Rookie of the Year Elena Delle Donne this past offseason. The swap with the Chicago Sky sent Sefanie Dolson, Kehleah Copper, and the Mystics’ second overall pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft to the Sky in exchange for the 6-foot-5 forward out of Deleware.
Not to lose out on a first round draft pick, head coach and general manager Mike Thibault then partook in a three-team trade that sent Bria Hartley and Kia Vaughn to the New York Liberty, Carolyn Swords to the Seattle Storm, and the Storm’s number six overall pick to Washington, D.C.
Next up, the Mystics once again owned the biggest headline with the signing of free agent Kristi Toliver, an All-Star guard that helped lead the Los Angeles Sparks to their 2016 WNBA Championship. Toliver is an eight year veteran with a career field goal percentage of 44.9, bringing to D.C. the ability to stretch the floor alongside Delle Donne and versatile center Emma Meesseman.
Oh, but we’re not done! As the WNBA Draft came around, Thibault then capitalized on the three-point specialist out of Maryland, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who somehow fell to number six in the draft. With the resigning of guard Tayler Hill and all of these offseason pickups, Coach Thaibault pushed the season predictions for the Mystics through the roof. Instead of fighting for the last playoff spot, many have expectations that the Mystics will go very, very far.
But with high expectations comes a lot of room disappointment. It was announced that Meesseman will miss part of the season due to commitments of her Belgian National Team. This already had many blowing off the Mystics’ chances at truly succeeding. It is undeniable that Delle Donne and Toliver will produce big time for their new teams, what is in question is if that production can turn into true success. Coach Thaibault is the winningest coach in the WNBA to date, but will those wins amount to anything?
As all eyes are on this all of the sudden loaded Mystics roster, true Washington fans are vying for their very first championship. I think the Mystics make the playoffs as the 4th or 5th seed, falling second in the Eastern Conference just behind a booming New York Liberty team.
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This D.C. team isn’t going to be your traditional looking team. Starting line-ups will change depending on who is available and which team they are playing. You have Delle Donne that can very easily play both shooting guard, power forward and center, Meeseman power forward and center, and Cloud that can and has played all three guard positions; and that is just the beginning.
Things are looking very magical in D.C. this year, let us just hope that we aren’t looking at the Mystics in mid-September as they have nothing to show for all this talent sitting right in Thaibault’s pocket.