The Washington Mystics are coming off of their third consecutive season of making the playoffs, the young team surely plans on taking another step forward next month when the 2016 campaign begins.
Last year’s draft haul featured Ally Malott, Natasha Cloud and Marcia Gajic. The last of which didn’t spend anytime in the WNBA last season, both Malott and Cloud got a chance to carve out minutes in their rookie year. Cloud more so than Malott as the Mystics have a pretty stacked front court and Cloud’s ability to play 1-3 (point guard thru small forward) gave her opportunities to see minutes at different positions.
Washington is a fairly young team, so there were no big signings in the offseason. It’s more about keeping up with their young group that saw time overseas, it’s about their continued development. Which makes Thursday’s WNBA Draft extremely interesting and very hard to predict for the Mystics. There isn’t an obvious place on their roster that needs to be addressed, they’re a deep bunch.
With three picks (as of now) in the draft, are there honestly roster spots for three young players? It definitely wouldn’t be a shock if Washington packaged those picks to move up in the first round or selected a player in Round 1 only to trade their second and third picks. The only guaranteed spot on the board that everyone knows is the first pick will be Uconn’s Breanna Stewart, after that anything is possible.
The fact that it’s virtually unknown how things will play out between picks two through six, Washington’s solid roster affords them a luxury not shared by every team picking ahead of them. They can literally take the best player available and be confident in doing so, that being said let’s talk about a few players that could fit into what the Mystics do.
Washington is big on versatility, outside of Ivory Latta (due to her size) they have several guards that can play both spots and a couple that can play 1-3 as mentioned above. They have a several highly skilled bigs in Emma Messeman and Stefanie Dolson along with the experienced Kia Vaughn and LaToya Sanders. Malott and Clould will be fighting for more minutes and the trio of wings in Bria Hartley, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, and Tayler Hill have already stated their case for more playing time.
So what type of players can help the Mystics in terms of depth and versatility? Morgan Tuck would be a great fit for them as she played all across the front court during her time at Uconn, but that’s a best case scenario as many expect her to be drafted by then. One player that would fit nicely at the seventh overall spot would be George Washington’s Jonquel Jones would give Washington an extremely versatile piece that can contribute in several different ways when on the floor. She’s not a finished product, but her upside is tremendous and there would be little pressure to come in and be relied on day one.
Those were my choices as far as bigs go, their two All-Star bigs are versatile enough to hit the glass and spread the floor. It wouldn’t make sense for the Mystics to look at bigs who don’t at least bring those skills to the table. As for the guards and wings, Kahleah Copper from Rutgers would fit in nicely with Washington’s perimeter players. She has the ability to play both guards spots and the size to slide up and play forward. She’s even an inch taller than Cloud who stands at six feet. Another option would be one of the deadliest shooters from distance in the draft, Minnesota’s Rachel Banham could be available at seven as well, with Kara Lawson nearing the end of her playing career, adding a deadly shooter certainly wouldn’t hurt.
In regards to the second and third round picks, should Washington keep them both, it’d still be about versatility. Looking at their roster, there’s very few players that are limited to playing just one position. No matter how things shake out in the picks in front of Washington, they have a luxury few teams have. Continue the trend of selecting versatile players, if that just so happens to be the best player available when it’s their turn on the clock, so be it.