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  • The Mystics were the first team to secure a playoff spot this season and have—thus far—won 11 games by 20 points or more. How have they done it? With a dominant offense, the likely MVP and an incredible amount of depth.
By Kellen Becoats
August 19, 2019

You know what the scariest part of playing the Washington Mystics is? You could think you’re having a good game, keeping pace with the best team in the league, and suddenly look up and find yourself buried underneath an avalanche of threes and efficient buckets that effectively puts you down for the count. 

Take Sunday’s game against the Indiana Fever, for example. Indiana was down by a nine—a seemingly manageable amount—going into halftime and had plenty of positives to take into the next half after scoring 24 points in the second quarter. Then things got downright ugly.

Elena Delle Donne made a three at the 6:34 mark and the Mystics proceeded to drill almost every shot afterward and send Twitter into an absolute meltdown.

We could simply talk about the record—that is, the new WNBA record for most threes in a game—or how nine players cashed in from deep, or how once that third three went in, it might as well have been over, but this is about more than one good game.

The Mystics have won 11 games by 20 or more points. That straight up looks like a typo. And all of their losses have come against teams currently in playoff spots, with those on the outside looking in taking a beating much of the time.

Peruse the WNBA stats page and it reads like a Washington love letter. The Mystics currently lead the league in *takes deep breath* points per game, assists per game, field goal percentage, three-pointers made, free throw percentage, least turnovers per game and plus-minus.

So yeah, you could say their offense is pretty good. (Just a little nugget to keep in mind: that Indiana throttling we talked about earlier? That was WITHOUT the injured Kristi Toliver.) This team at full strength is simply ridiculous and fascinating to watch. 

Every time Delle Donne, who seems like she might as well get the MVP trophy shipped to her crib right now, pulls up, it feels like the ball is going in, and that’s because it is most of the time. She’s shooting 51.5% from the floor, 41.9% from three and 96.3% from the line. That’s just silly. Those are 2K stats.

And supporting her is possibly the most balanced offense in the W. There are five players on the Mystics averaging 10 points or more and two more who score nine points or more. Washington shoots 36.6% from three as a team, which is why when they move the ball around the perimeter, you constantly see defenders scrambling to find the ball and doing invisible calculations in their head about who would be the best option to allow to get a shot off.

But therein lies the scariest thing of all: There are no good options. The entire starting five is capable of drilling from beyond the arc, save for LaToya Sanders, who is humorously aware of her long-range limitations and more than comfortable setting up shop in the paint. 

Then you contend with Emma Meesseman and Aerial Powers coming off the bench (when Toliver is heatlhy) and giving the team some instant offense as well. In fact, it starts to feel a bit unfair as you go further down the roster and see almost everyone who is healthy on this roster is contributing something. There’s a reason that EDD gave a shoutout to her bench at the end of Sunday’s game. This team is loaded.

They’re not too bad on defense either, racking up the second most blocks averaged in the league despite a relatively pedestrian defensive rating. They also allow the least opponent points off turnovers. 

Combine all of that with the intelligence and experience of Mike Thibault and a team that’s hungry to rectify their loss in the Finals last year to the Storm and they seem well on their way. 

The Mystics have adopted the de facto slogan “Run It Back” after all of last season’s success and it’s hard to see many—hell any—teams stopping them from marching back to the Finals. 

With most of the top teams relying on dominating post presences or a versatile, big wing, Washington could run into trouble defending in the post, where they give up the third-most points in the W. But those players will also have to contend with Delle Donne and Meesseman on the other end of the court. Let's do the opposition a favor and call it a draw.

As we creep ever closer to the playoffs, the specter of the Mystics should linger over the rest of the WNBA. This team has battled through injuries and a tough end to their run last season and come out looking like the most fearsome team in the league. So maybe the scariest thing about Washington is that someone is going to have to stand in its way.

Lay-ups:

Frankly, Liz Cambage might just have to have a permanent place in here because she continues to be the most interesting person in the WNBA. I present to you, a perfect play in three-ish acts.


I would like Ty Young to do my entire wardrobe, now and forever.

Also in the land of pregame style pics. … 


Speak on it, Chiney.

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