Going into this WNBA season, the Mystics made a big splash in the offseason by acquiring a top five WNBA player in Elena Delle Donne. Imagine Delle Donne pairing with Emma Meesseman in the front court. The matchup problems that could create were having opposing coaches shook. There was only one problem. Emma would leave the team three games into the regular season to join her native country Belgium’s national team.
It’s been a month and some change since Meesseman took a leave of absence. During that time span the Mystics went 8-3 and are playing like a top contender in the East. With her absence, Krystal Thomas’ productivity has risen on both sides of the floor, defense from a team perspective has increased, the “Goon Squad” as Ivory Latta calls the bench performs a great level. So with all of this how does Meesseman change the dynamic of the Mystics.
Well for starters, her game is sound on both sides of the floor. She just came off averaging 15.2 points a contest last season, so add that with the play of the team currently and not many can match that scoring output. Her size and versatility allows her to be an effective center if they play small ball or if Coach Thibault plays big with her, Thomas and Delle Donne I guarantee not many teams has the same type of depth. Lastly the “Goon Squad” only improves because some of them such as Thomas and Tianna Hawkins had to play more crucial minutes which will only make them more potent as the season plays out.
Meesseman was able to get some minutes in a last second lost against the defending champion LA Sparks finishing with six points and four rebounds. Unfortunately for Washington, that loss to LA had them surrendering a 17 point lead over the reigning champs. The Mystics are two games into a 5 game road trip, they lost last night in Phoenix. It was a poor shooting night for the team, as they shot just 39% from the floor in the 88-80 loss. Britteny Griner had a monster game, posting 30 points and 14 rebounds. Washington didn’t turn the ball over much and only lost on the boards by six, that poor shooting really cost them one.
While it isn’t the best of starts to the trip, Washington needs to take advantage of this both in the win column and as an opportunity to improve that on-court chemistry. They can ill afford to return to D.C. having lost more games than won on this trip. At this moment, they still have two more wins than the fourth place Mercury.
The Mystics first two games of this road trip were on the West coast, up next they’ll face Connecticut. Followed by games against Indiana and New York. As the season continues and Messeman finds her way back to the starting five, the Mystics will finally get a chance to see just how good they can be.