New lineup will allow Mystics to spread floor
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.”