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2018 Season Preview: Five Reasons To Watch The Washington Mystics Work

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2017 Record: 18-16, No. 6 seed in Playoffs, Eliminated by Lynx in Semifinals

Key Offseason Moves

  • Signed free agents Monique Currie and Devereaux Peters
  • Re-signed Tianna Hawkins, LaToya Sanders, Allison Hightower and Asia Taylor
  • Announced Emma Meesseman will not play in 2018
  • Selected Ariel Atkins, Myisha Hines-Allen and Rebecca Greenwell in WNBA Draft 2018

2017 Season Highlights

All-Access: Mystics Advance To Semifinals

1. Year Two of EDD in DC

When Elena Delle Donne arrived in Washington in 2017, she immediately changed the expectations for the franchise. Coming off a 13-win season, the addition of the 2015 WNBA MVP (along with veteran guard Kristi Toliver) elevated the Mystics to title-contender status in the eyes of some fans, analysts and league general managers.

Despite a rash of injuries (including nine missed games by EDD), the Mystics won 18 games and advanced to the Semifinals in the WNBA playoffs. By keeping the majority of the roster together, the Mystics will be much more comfortable with each other in Delle Donne’s second season in DC.

2. Infusion of Young Talent

The Mystics have five rookies in training camp, including two of their three selections in the 2018 WNBA Draft, headlined by Ariel Atkins from Texas. The 5-11 lefty guard was a standout on both ends of the floor in college as an All-Big 12 First Team and All-Big 12 Defensive Team selection. She brings a high basketball IQ, great shooting ability (53.4 FG%, 42.0 3P%, 85.9 FT% shooting splits as a senior) and outstanding defensive instincts (2.5 steals per game) that should earn her minutes as a rookie in head coach Mike Thibault’s system.

In the second round, the Mystics added Louisville forward Myisha Hines-Allen, who will add depth to a Washington frontcourt that will be without Emma Meesseman this season as she prepares to play with the Belgian National team in the FIBA World Cup this fall. Former Duke sharpshooter Rebecca Greenwell was selected in the third round but will miss the season due to knee surgery.

3. The Return of Monique Currie

Veteran forward Monique Currie returns to her hometown and the city where her she spent most of her WNBA career (2007-2014). After making stops in Phoenix and San Antonio over the past three seasons, the 12-year pro is back in the District and ready to be a veteran leader for this Mystics squad.

Currie is already familiar with Thibault (he was in Washington for Currie’s final two seasons during her first run with the team), so that will lessen her learning curve with her new squad. In addition to Currie, the Mystics added forward Devereaux Peters to add more depth to the frontline. Peters played in Indiana in 2016 before missing 2017 due to injury.

4. Tayler Hill’s Road To Recovery

Washington’s win over Indiana on July 14 last season proved to be a costly one. First, there was a sprained ankle by Delle Donne that would cost her the following two games and the All-Star Game. But the bigger loss came in the third quarter as guard Tayler Hill suffered a torn ACL in her right knee, which ended her season. The past 10 months have been full of rehab for Hill as she works to get herself healthy and back on the court this season. She is expected to be out until at least June.

Prior to her injury, she ranked third on the team in both scoring (13.3 PPG) and assists (2.6 APG). The return of Currie will help fill those minutes, as will sophomore guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough. After a slow start to her first pro season (2.4 PPG on 30% FG in 9.1 MPG prior to the All-Star break), Walker-Kimbrough got more minutes (16.2) following Hill’s injury and responded with 6.5 points, on 40% shooting, including 41.7% from beyond the arc.

5. Taking the Next Step

In addition to improving their win total from 13 to 18 games in the regular season, the Mystics made significant strides in the postseason for a franchise that has lacked playoff success throughout its 20-year history. In Washington’s previous nine playoff appearances dating back to 2000, the team had only advanced past the first round once (2002) and had never advanced past the second round. They held a 5-19 playoff record entering the 2017 postseason.

Last season, the Mystics won single-elimination games against Dallas in the first round and New York in the second round to advance to the Semifinals, where they faced the Minnesota Lynx in a best-of-five series. Despite falling to the eventual champions in three games, the Mystics got valuable playoff experience, a taste of playoff success and a hunger for more. After taking such major strides in 2017, can the Mystics take the next step in 2018 and truly become title contenders?