Howard: Lindsay, speaking of happy, you had a chance to see Elena Delle Donne return to the court on Thursday in Washington’s loss to the Lynx. I’m wondering how happy you think, on balance, the Mystics should be with their start- just 5-4, but utterly dominant at times, especially when Delle Donne is playing.
Lindsay: The Mystics have had a very strange start to the season, but there is so much reason for optimism. Delle Donne is nowhere near 100 % yet — or at least she wasn’t on Thursday — but her absence has really allowed the Mystics to showcase their depth. Rookie Ariel Atkins has thrived, Natasha Cloud is playing some of the best basketball in her career, and another rookie, Myisha Hines-Allen, has turned out to be a steal in the second round. Players like TRP and LaToya Sanders can keep the team in the game defensively, Tianna Hawkins is one of the most versatile bench players in the league, and Kristi Toliver can outshoot anyone on any given night. There’s a lot to like. However, Delle Donne’s health is obviously going to be crucial going forward. They need the constant leader who can take over games, focus the team down the stretch, and provide a consistent 20ish points every night. If she can get back into that form sooner rather than later, I think the Mystics are going to be in every game they play.
The biggest problem with the Mystics, and why Thibault has been fairly speechless at times this season, is that they have so many pieces but it’s not clear how it all fits together. Their pieces aren’t as elite as, say, Connecticut’s, but there are still about 10 players who can start any given night.
Howard: It’s really interesting, I agree. And it feels like Curt Miller has had more of a chance to see what fits, with virtually everyone healthy so far.