New lineup will al­low Mys­tics to spread floor

The Washington Post Sunday - - WASHINGTONPOST.COM/SPORTS - MYS­TICS BY GENE WANG gene.wang@wash­post.com Ex­cerpted from wash­ing­ton­post.com/dc­sports­bog

Elena Delle Donne made it crys­tal clear this off­sea­son that she wanted to con­tinue her WNBA ca­reer closer to her home in Delaware. She will get to do so af­ter sign­ing with the Wash­ing­ton Mys­tics, based roughly 110 miles from her birth­place of Wilm­ing­ton, Del.

Still, the 2015 WNBA MVP said that was only part of the rea­son why she de­cided the District would be the best fit for her as she en­ters what she re­ferred to as the peak of her play­ing ca­reer.

“It’s not a se­cret to any­one how much my fam­ily means to me,” Delle Donne said on a con­fer­ence call Thurs­day night, joined by Mys­tics Coach and Gen­eral Manger Mike Thibault. “The prox­im­ity to home is ob­vi­ously very nice, but the bas­ket­ball side of things is some­thing I’m smil­ing the most about and most ex­cited about.

“Each time I hear Coach Thibault speak about the team and what he thinks we can ac­com­plish and do, it just gets me ex­cited to get on the court and start work­ing with these awe­some and tal­ented team­mates. So much went into this de­ci­sion. I think Wash­ing­ton just re­ally meets all my per­sonal and pro­fes­sional wishes.”

For Thibault, “the bas­ket­ball side of things” means per­haps bor­row­ing from the Golden State War­riors. In ad­di­tion to Delle Donne, who fin­ished sec­ond in the WNBA this past sea­son in three-point field goal per­cent­age (42.6), the Mys­tics also have Emma Meesse­man, the league leader (44.8) in that cat­e­gory.

Mys­tics guard Tayler Hill, who went fourth in the 2013 draft, two spots be­hind Delle Donne, was 17th in the league in three-point shoot­ing per­cent­age (35.1) last sea­son, and vet­eran point guard Ivory Latta had made at least 69 three-point­ers in four con­sec­u­tive sea­sons be­fore an in­jury­plagued 2016.

Wash­ing­ton also has an­other po­ten­tial threat from be­yond the arc in sec­ond-year for­ward Ally Malott, who fin­ished seventh all time at Day­ton in three-point shoot­ing per­cent­age.

“We’re go­ing to be able to spread the floor, but it also will be able to help our post-up game and our driv­ing game,” Thibault said. “With the three-point shoot­ing we have, it opens up drives to the bas­ket. It opens up eas­ier pos­tups. With the dif­fer­ent line­ups we can put on the floor, we can cre­ate some mis­matches, too.

“The of­fense is go­ing to try to have not too many set plays and let them learn how to play to their strengths, to run up and down, to move the ball. We have a lot of un­selfish play­ers. I would like us to lead the league in as­sists if we can.”

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