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2021 WNBA Team Preview: Washington Mystics

From one historic season to another, the WNBA’s 25th season is set to tip-off on May 14th. The league will commemorate the 25th season with a campaign, “Count It” and a distinguishing and purposeful 25th season logo. The WNBA will also celebrate the ways its players have shattered expectations and have stood at the forefront of advancement, inclusion, and social change for 25 years.

In the lead up to the season, WNBA.com will break down each team in the league. Next up: the Washington Mystics.

Just two seasons ago the Mystics were crowned WNBA champions for the first time in franchise history, and now they stand a chance at being one of the top teams in the league yet again. The return of Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud and newcomer Tina Charles (who is bound to impact the game on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor) brings a lot of promise to Washington.

2020 Season Recap

  • 9-13, 8th in league
  • Lost in first round of playoffs to Phoenix

Offseason Moves

Coach Mike Thibault landed one of the most sought-after players in the 2021 WNBA free agency pool in Alysha Clark, but after suffering what would turn out to be a season-ending Lisfranc injury (foot), Washington will be without their top free-agent signing.

Clark played a pivotal role for Seattle in their run for the 2020 WNBA title. On the season, the forward averaged 10.0 PPG and 4.2 RPG all while shooting a career-high 55.8% from the field. Standing at 5-11 you could often find Clark causing havoc on defense, which helped her case for being the only player unanimously selected to the 2020 All-WNBA Defensive First Team.

In addition to Clark being out, Emma Meesseman isn’t expected to join the team until after fulfilling her overseas commitments, which definitely hurts the Mystics depth. They will once again rely on Myisha Hines-Allen, who was runner-up for Most Improved Player in 2020 as she made a giant leap in her third WNBA season when she was presented with more minutes with both Delle Donne and Charles missing the season. It will be interesting to see how Hines-Allen plays alongside the two former MVPs.

One Big Question Headed In 2021

Can The Mystics Stay Healthy? 

Washington’s biggest threat will not be what their opponents throw at them on the court, but instead, it will come down to keeping a healthy roster throughout the season.

Delle Donne, who has been limited in training camp and did not play in either of Washington’s preseason games, is targeting a return for the Mystics’ season opener on May 15 following back surgery in December. Once she is back on the court, you can expect her to come in with a mindset to do exactly what EDD does… a little bit of everything. Some might think Delle Donne may have to find her groove, but as proven before, the 2019 MVP can bounce back from sitting out for an extended period of time.

Household names like Ariel Atkins, Charles, Delle Donne, and Cloud could very well make the Mystics one of the scariest teams in the league, but it will take all of them to remain at full strength throughout the season to provide hope at another deep playoff run.

WNBA Draft Ranking

Michelle Smith ranked every team’s draft decisions. With no picks in the 2021 draft, by default Washington was rated 12th.

Where to Watch

Washington opens the 2021 season against Chicago at home on Saturday, May 15 at 1 pm/ET on ABC.