The Washington Mystics are set to acquire the 2015 WNBA Most Valuable Player, Elena Delle Donne will officially be a member of the Washington Mystics tomorrow.
The news broke last night of there being an agreement in principle for a trade between the Mystics and the Chicago Sky. The Sky will receive center Stefanie Dolson and wing Kahleah Copper, along with the second overall pick in this year’s draft. Washington traded Kia Vaughn and Bria Hartley yesterday to gain a little cap room.
These types of trades seldom happen in the WNBA, the most recent being when Sylvia Fowles forced a trade from the Sky to the Minnesota Lynx two years ago. Fowles sat out the first half of the season, got traded and went on to play a key role in Minnesota winning the championship that season. This time, Chicago didn’t want to wait and pulled the trigger on a deal versus having Delle Donne sit out half the season.
The Mystics add a top five player in her prime, her versatility gives them flexibility in terms of lineups. Whether they play her at the 3 or 4 (small forward or power forward), opposing teams are going to have to change the way they prepare for Washington. In the Olympics, Geno Aurriema used her at the 4 and opposing teams didn’t know how to deal with her. As the screener, she presents a ton of issues for defenses as she can roll or pop.
Delle Donne averaged 21.5 points and 7 rebounds per game last season, what was most impressive to me was the 1.5 blocks per contest. Obviously her offensive prowess is what makes headlines, but it’s an added bonus if she’s able to help protect the rim. Her ability to shoot the three will provide added spacing, the attention she draws will open things up for her teammates as well.
The fact that Washington was able to acquire Delle Donne without giving up Emma Meeseeman was huge. Gene Wang of the Washington Post suggests that the Mystics aren’t done retooling their roster.
In terms of free agents, one that jumps out is former Maryland Terrapin Kristi Toliver. The sharpshooter helped the Sparks win the title last year, there’s also a few bigs that are available. Erlena Larkins and Erika de Souza are a couple that could help provide some depth. It’ll be interesting to see what the Mystics do next, but it’s clear they are taking steps to become contenders.