In what could turn out to be one of the most impactful trades in WNBA history, it was announced Thursday that Elena Delle Donne is officially heading to the Washington Mystics. After four seasons in Chicago, one Finals appearance and one MVP trophy, the Sky swapped Delle Donne for Stefanie Dolson, Kahleah Copper and the second overall pick in the upcoming draft.
As Delle Donne takes the next step in her career, here are 10 things you need to know about the newest star in the nation’s capital.
1. She has been an All-Star since Day 1.
Delle Donne arrived in the WNBA as part of the heralded “Three to See” in the 2013 WNBA Draft — Baylor’s Brittney Griner to Phoenix at No. 1, Delle Donne to Chicago at No. 2 and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins to Tulsa (now Dallas) at No. 3.
EDD made history in 2013, becoming the first WNBA rookie to lead all players in votes for the All-Star Game. At the end of the season, she was named to the All-WNBA Second Team, finishing behind only Maya Moore, Candace Parker and Tamika Catchings in the voting for forwards.
2. Delle Donne has a knack for bringing her team to new heights right away.
The Sky had a losing record in their first seven seasons as a franchise — until Delle Donne’s rookie season, when all of a sudden, Chicago earned the top seed in the East as part of its first playoff berth. In college, she guided the Delaware Blue Hens to their first-ever conference title and NCAA tournament victory in 2012. Her high-school career was no different, as Delle Donne’s team won the state championship the first year she was eligible for varsity and went on to capture the next two titles as well.
3. Not only was she MVP, but Delle Donne’s 2015 season ranks as one of the best in league history.
She averaged 23.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and two blocks, finishing with the third-highest Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of all time. Only three-time MVP Lauren Jackson posted a higher PER than Delle Donne in any season. She also shot 95 percent at the free throw line, setting a single-season record (minimum 150 attempts).
4. Speaking of free throws…
Delle Donne might be the most accurate shooter at the foul line to ever play professional basketball, man or woman. With a career mark of 93.8 percent, Delle Donne is on pace to smash the all-time records for both the WNBA (Becky Hammon: 89.7 percent) and NBA (Steve Nash: 90.4). The worst percentage of her career – 92.9 percent as a rookie – is higher than that of any NBA player in the last three years. During her MVP season, Delle Donne set a league record by going 19-for-19 at the line against Atlanta.
5. That historic performance at the foul line was part of her career night.
In that same matchup with Atlanta, Delle Donne finished with career highs of 45 points and six blocked shots en route to a Chicago victory. She shot an efficient 12-for-20 from the field and also grabbed 11 boards. In the postseason, her best performance came against Indiana later that year, when Delle Donne had 40 points and 11 rebounds as the Sky were eliminated in a winner-take-all Game 3 of the Conference Semifinals.
6. Delle Donne is going to a team that she’s consistently dominated.
The Sky have made the playoffs every year since Delle Donne arrived and been successful against most teams, but they’ve been especially dominant against Washington. Excluding her most recent matchup with the Mystics – her final game in Chicago when she played just eight minutes due to injury – Delle Donne has won seven straight contests and owns a 12-2 record against her new team. She averaged just under 20 points in those games.
7. She might be known for offense, but Delle Donne can be just as good on the defensive end.
The 6-foot-5 forward has finished in the league’s top five in blocks every year of her career, averaging 1.7 rejections per game through four seasons. That ranks her in the all-time top 10. A member of her conference’s all-defensive team in college, Delle Donne set the Sky rookie record with 54 blocks in 30 games as a rookie. During her MVP season, she ranked sixth in defensive plus-minus.
8. Delle Donne originally committed to play for UConn.
But after just a few days on campus the summer before freshman year, she decided to go back to her home state to be closer to family. She then took a year off from basketball – although she did play for Delaware’s volleyball team as a walk-on – before commencing one of the greatest college careers ever.
9. Unlike most WNBA players, she has yet to play overseas during the offseason.
Similar to her college decision, Delle Donne cited close relationships with family members as the main reason why she stays home. She was planning to play in China this year, but returned home due to a flare-up of Lyme disease, which she has been dealing with since 2008. The disease caused her to miss games in college and much of the Sky’s 2014 season.
10. Delle Donne became an Olympic champion last summer.
Although she came off the bench on a loaded squad, Delle Donne played a vital role in the USA’s run to gold at her first Olympics. The USA went 8-0 in Rio de Janeiro, scoring 100 or more points a record six times. Safe to say that tournament will be the final time Delle Donne comes off the bench in a basketball game.