The first hint that the Washington Mystics might be by far the best team in the league came on Sunday. The Mystics ravaged the then-best team by record, Connecticut Sun, by FORTY-FREAKING-THREE points on national TV. Again, that’s a 43-point differential in 40 minutes of playing time, against a team that already had beaten them twice this season.
Six Mystics players finished in double-figures, and the team shot 53 percent from the field, 43 percent from range on 30 tries, and 100 percent from the free-throw line on 21 tries. This was a total and utter rout against a team with a 9-4 record and an MVP-favorite in Jonquel Jones. It was so bad, Sun head coach Curt Miller hardly stood up from the bench as his team’s pockets were picked 12 times.
A little more than one-third of the way into the season, they’re the league’s most obvious choice to hoist the championship trophy in October, and it isn’t even close. The Mystics boast the WNBA’s best record, best offense, and best player. Per the WNBA, Washington is outscoring opponents by 17.1 points per 100 possessions, which is nearly four times better than the second-place Las Vegas Aces at 4.8 per 100 possessions. At this point, this is their title to lose.
Of course, 2015 MVP Elena Delle Donne is leading the charge. She finally looks as good as before she badly hyperextended her knee in last year’s semifinals, and then kept playing despite it. After the 43-point win, I attempted to ask teammate Natasha Cloud about Delle Donne’s breakout stretch, but was cut off by a loud goat noise that sounded like “BAHHH.” Then, an echo chamber of six subsequent “bahhh’s” flooded the locker room, forcing every reporter inside to succumb to laughter.
The point was made. Delle Donne, who’s not even 100 percent due to last year’s knee injury, is a GOAT.
The Mystics’ MVP is putting together her the best stretch since the injury last October, shooting better than 50 percent from the floor while scoring 19 or more points in her last four games. That includes 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting in a road victory over the Aces on June 19.
As good as she’s looked, she still isn’t at 100 percent health-wise, even if she insists the sleek brace on her knee is working well. Coach Mike Thibault said there are days Delle Donne comes to practice “stiff and sore,” though Cloud said she fights through it.
“She holds us down even though her knee might not always feeling great and she’s fatigued,” Cloud said.
Even when Delle Donne isn’t entirely on her game, the Mystics are deep enough to hang with the best. Second-year player Ariel Atkins should be an all-star, and Cloud merits consideration as well. LaToya Sanders is Delle Donne’s perfect low-post compliment, and veteran three-point extraordinaire Kristi Toliver rounds out the starting five.
The most terrifying part of it all for the rest of the league is that D.C. doesn’t even have all of its all-stars in America. Emma Meesseman, the team’s best player before Delle Donne arrived, is weeks from returning from the EuroBasket.
Good luck, rest of the league.
It looks like NBA 2K is going to include the WNBA
The first NBA 2K trailer dropped on Monday, and we got a brief look at A’ja Wilson in an Aces uniform! There are no details yet, but it looks like 2K, the basketball video game, will introduce the W a year after NBA Live.
It looks like the WNBA will be in NBA2K20 pic.twitter.com/rVwh7bxq6D— SB Nation (@SBNation) July 1, 2019
A’ja Wilson went for 39 points in OT
Speaking of Wilson, in an overtime win over the Fever, she dropped a career-high 39 points on 14-of-20 shooting with 11 rebounds and five assists.
Liz Cambage vs. Kalani Brown beef
Move over Lisa Leslie and Lauren Jackson, we have new hair-pulling beef. In the Aces’ game against the Sparks, rookie Kalani Brown’s hair got wrapped up in the clutch of Liz Cambage’s arm, and they’re both blaming each other.
Here’s the play:
#ICYMI Last night the 2 should-be-better-but-not-as-good-as-expected teams of the #WNBA met in LA. The should be betters from LA bested the should be betters from Vegas, who committed their standard 19 TOs, vs 19 assists. But all on Kalani v Cambagepic.twitter.com/Jgxo2PVWBq— Eye on the W (@iwatchwomenball) June 28, 2019
After the game, Brown sounded off.
“She told me she was gonna pull my hair out,” Brown said. “I just didn’t think she would really do it.”
I asked Kalani Brown about the mix-up with Liz Cambage: “She told me she was gonna pull my hair out - I just didn’t think she would really do it” pic.twitter.com/4OmS0Yfj6a— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) June 28, 2019
And then Cambage responded, tweeting that Brown was lying. “I get y’all tryna be cute with some inches, but tye [sic] that cheap shit up.”
Kara Lawson is now a Celtics assistant coach
WNBA and Olympic champion Kara Lawson just joined a growing list of female coaches in the NBA pic.twitter.com/FkrvBQPXbR— SB Nation (@SBNation) June 28, 2019
That’s eight women on NBA coaching staffs.