Mystics Insider Blog
Guest Contributor – Andrew Willett
A Mystics Week at a Glance
A four-game week with Elena Delle Donne in and out of the lineup meant the only consistency for the Washington Mystics was inconsistency. After going 2-2 this week, the Mystics sit fifth in the standings at 11-7 and continued .500 basketball over its last 12 games. Washington split a two-game home series against the Phoenix Mercury beginning with a 99-90 overtime loss before a dominant 83-65 win. In similar fashion, Washington fell to New York 77-65, before flipping the script against second-seed Connecticut 71-63.
The Mystics toppled a brutal schedule of five games in nine days, winning an impressive three out of five and received two days of rest for the first time since between games on June 5th and June 8th. Rest (along with a healthy Delle Donne) proved beneficial for Washington as the Mystics dominated a matchup with the Sun, leading by as many as 22. Up next, the team will look to conquer its west-coast road trip from Los Angeles to Seattle to Las Vegas in a span of five days.
Stepping up in the Frontcourt
The persistent narrative around the Washington Mystics remains injuries. Now, it becomes about how the Mystics persevere despite those injuries. This team is not the only team battling injuries, but anytime you lose your best player it hurts. With Delle Donne resting her surgically repaired back to preserve her for the end of the season, players like Myisha Hines-Allen and Shakira Austin pick up the extra slack.
Hines-Allen takes on starting duties with Delle Donne out, leaving the Mystics down a starter and with a hole in the bench rotation. But after a slow start to the season, she responded with a fantastic week. Hines-Allen came into the Minnesota game on June 10th averaging 6.2 points per game (PPG) before dropping a combined 35 points and 16 rebounds on 65% shooting (FG%) and 63% from three (3PT%) in two games.
Over Hines-Allen’s first three games played without Delle Donne, she averaged only 7 PPG on 32% FG% and 2/7 from three. But those numbers exploded to 12.3 PPG on 46% FG% and 43% 3PT% in her last four starts. With her season average up to 7 PPG and up above 38% FG% and 33% 3PT%, Hines-Allen’s improved offense allows her to make her presence known. Her physicality on the boards and on defense in just under 20 minutes of play solidifies an incomplete team.
The other frontcourt member consolidating the roster without EDD is Shakira Austin. A disappointing team performance against New York (6-9) follows one of the best performances for both the team and Austin against the Mercury (6-9). She put up her second career double-double against Tina Charles and Phoenix, after her first double-double against Sylvia Fowles and Minnesota came in her first career start. Austin dropped 16 points and 10 rebounds in dominant fashion. She and EDD both start in the frontcourt at 6’5”, but Austin has been holding her own down low when EDD rests. Delle Donne helps hide weaknesses and cover mistakes both spacing the court on offense and helping around the rim on defense, so the pressure intensifies on Austin without her. Aside from her aforementioned first career start and double-double, Austin plays better next to EDD with her best scoring performances coming next to her (20 @ Dallas on May 17, 14 @ Chicago on May 22, 14 vs. Chicago on June 8, and 16 vs. Phoenix on June 14).
Importance of Assist to Turnover Ratio
With one of the best passers in the league in Natasha Cloud (tied for first in the W at 7 assists per game (APG)), it should come as no surprise that the Mystics sit near the top of the league in assists at 20.4 APG, a hair behind the Las Vegas Aces (12-2). And it should not come as a surprise that when the Mystics share the ball good things happen, especially when it leads to made baskets. Obviously, basketball is make-or-miss, so it was not a shock that the Mystics shot 41.9% FG%, 36.2% 3PT%, and 76.7% from the free-throw line (FT%) in the two wins compared to 38.6% FG%, 27.6% 3PT%, and 64.6% FT% in two losses.
The assist to turnover ratio tells the same story as the Mystics dropped 44 assists to 20 turnovers in the two wins compared to 37 assists to 33 turnovers in the losses including 20 against Phoenix the first time. Some of that correlation stems from just missing shots but some comes from a lack of ball movement and ability to take care of the ball. The statistics for the season claim the same as Washington records an assist to turnover ratio of 1.65 in wins and just 1.29 in losses.
Per usual, the element to watch remains with or without EDD, when the Mystics record an assist percentage of 70.5% and turnover percentage of just 15.2% with her on the floor compared to 67.8% and 19.6% with her resting or on the bench. As with any team, taking care of the ball stands out as important especially with the first half of the season moving into the All-Star break.
Final All-Star Voting
The season still seems young, but the All-Star game is just around the corner. This year’s celebration occurs on July 10th in Chicago hosted by the Sky. EDD and Atkins remain the only two previous All-Stars on the team, but with Tasha Cloud dishing out assists, Myisha Hines-Allen controlling the boards on both sides of the floor and Shakira Austin dropping double-doubles, we may add more people to the list soon.
Fan voting ended June 20th, accounting for 50% of the vote, while all current players and a media panel will account for 25 percent each. With all votes tallied, each player’s score will be calculated by averaging their weighted rank from each category to decide the four guards and six frontcourt players who will start AT&T WNBA All-Star 2022.
After the announcement of starters on Wednesday, June 22, the league’s head coaches will select the 12 reserves. The head coaches will vote for three guards, five frontcourt players and four players at either position regardless of conference. The captains – the two All-Star starters who receive the most fan votes – will draft their respective rosters by selecting first from the remaining eight players in the pool of starters and then from the pool of 12 reserves announced on Tuesday, June 28. ESPN will broadcast the WNBA All-Star Team Selection Special on Saturday, July 2 (3pm ET).