If you’re a Washington Mystics season-ticket holder you may be wondering what team you’re watching when the Mystics open at home on May 19 versus Chicago. With a small battalion of incoming new players, the Mystics will look nothing like the team that went a disappointing 6-28 last season. When asked if she’ll recognize the team in the huddle this year, head coach Trudi Lacey joked, “Yeah, just because I’ve seen them around the league.”
Washington brought in a group of veteran players, including Dominique Canty, Noelle Quinn and Michelle Snow, that Lacey says will give the team versatility and experience that it did not have last year.
“I think the positive of it is that we have experienced players that have been in the league, so for the most part they understand what it takes to be successful in the league,” Lacey said. “They’re professionals. So that’s different from the team we had last year that was very young.”
The Mystics have an opportunity to continue to improve in the draft as they are one of only two teams with two selections in the first round, and the only team with two selections in the top 10.
The Mystics could go a lot of different ways with their picks – winning only six games can have that affect – but their biggest need is on the wing. While point guard Matee Ajavon was one of the bright spots for Washington last year – hence why she is one of the few that returned – she needs help on the perimeter. Despite Ajavon nearly doubling her career high in assists, the Mystics still finished last in the league in dimes with only 14 assists per game, while also committing the third most turnovers in the league. With at least one of their first-round picks, expect the Mystics to draft someone that can give Ajavon another option to dish it to on the wing and/or to take the pressure off her in terms of handling the ball. Lacey mentioned UConn’s Tiffany Hayes, Notre Dame’s Natalie Novosel, Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Julie Wojta and even Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis as potential targets.
“If we can find a wing who has 3-point shooting range that would benefit us,” said Lacey. “Or a post player, again, that can stretch the defense and does have 3-point range, that would benefit us. If it’s available.”
If the Mystics look for a versatile big in the first round they will have plenty of options, including Notre Dame’s Devereaux Peters, Tennessee’s Vicki Baugh, DePaul’s Keisha Hampton and Maryland’s Lynetta Kizer, among others. Any of those players could bolster a frontline that also returns Monique Currie, who missed all but four games last year, and features Crystal Langhorne, the team’s unquestioned leader who last year averaged a team-best 18.2 points and 7.6 rebounds.
It will be a new-look Mystics team this year and Monday’s draft will go a long way in finalizing the barely recognizable roster.
--Anthony Oliva, WNBA.com
Recent Draft History
11. Victoria Dunlap
23. Karima Christmas
35. Sarah Krnjic
13. Kalana Greene
16. Ashley Houts
25. Cory Montgomery
8. Kia Vaughn
21. Abby Waner