The Washington Mystics had a very eventful offseason as they landed the league’s 2015 Most Valuable Player, Elena Delle Donne. While that trade brought someone in, it meant several players were leaving. Two left in the trade for EDD, Stefanie Dolson and Kahleah Copper. In a second trade to create both cap space and roster space, the Mystics sent Kia Vaughn and Bria Hartley to the New York Liberty. They made a couple of free agent acquisitions as well, the first being a former member of the reigning WNBA Champion Los Angeles Sparks, Kristi Tolliver. Washington also added Asia Taylor and Krystal Thomas.
One of the caveats of that trade for Delle Donne was Washington and Chicago swapping draft position in the first round. Chicago selected South Carolina big Alina Coates second overall, the Mystics took the sharp-shooting Shatori Walker-Kimbrough with that sixth pick.
The now former Maryland Terrapin, Walker-Kimbrough joins past Terps Kristi Tolliver and Tianna Hawkins in Washington. She ended a stellar four year career in College Park as Maryland’s all time leader in three point percentage at 45.9%, eclipsing new Mystics teammate Tolliver who finished her Terp career at 40.8%. Shatori provides much needed depth on the wing with the loss of Copper and Hartley, at 5’11 she can play both the 2 and 3 (shooting guard, small forward). She’s not great off the dribble in terms of iso situations, but her handle is good enough to attack hard closeouts and slash to the basket. Much more than a shooter, Walker-Kimbrough is a good defender. Blessed with a long wingspan and quick feet, she could be a plus defender in the league given time.
Washington chose another player with ties to the area in the second round, Accokeek native Jennie Simms. She has a few things in common with the Mystics first pick this year. Walker-Kimbrough finished her career fourth in scoring in school history, Simms finished fifth at Old Dominon when it was all said and done. She’s a hair taller than Shatori, standing at a solid six feet tall. Named the 2016-2017 Conference USA Player of the Year, Simms has an opportunity to carve out a spot on that second unit. It’s evident that she has a knack for scoring and she’s joining one of the top offenses in the league. Her size gives Coach Thibault yet another versatile piece on the wing, that scoring ability should earn her some minutes.
The Mystics continued their theme of selecting offensively gifted wings, in the third round they selected Mehryn Kraker. She was named the Horizon League Player of the Year, she averaged 17.6 points this past season for University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. She became just the second player in school history to be drafted by a WNBA team. She has a great work ethic and that will be tested this first season, as she’s part of a three player draft class that is all wings. While she played forward in college, it’ll be interesting to see if she ends up moving down to the wing or can handle that work load in the league. Most forwards in college that are a bit undersized slide down to the wing once they move up to the professional ranks.
Mike Thibault and the Mystics look to have had another good draft. It’s clear that the front office feels that the team has enough post players. It’s certainly going to be fun to see how that battle for those perimeter spots shake out and how many of these youngsters will make an impact this season. It’s been a very productive offseason for the Mystics, we’re rapidly approaching training camp and the start of the regular season.