The Mystics’ offseason is underway. Most of their players are in various overseas leagues, and we’ll talk about how to interpret their play in the upcoming weeks. But in the meantime, let’s go through four key questions that Washington faces during the Wizards’ regular season.
Will Emma Meesseman lead Belgium to EuroBasket Women 2017? Is it a bad thing if she does?
Emma Meesseman is a damn good player. But Belgium, her motherland, hasn’t made EuroBasket since 2007.
In this cycle, however, the Belgians control their destiny. They play 2016 Olympic participant Belarus and Poland in the next couple of weeks, and have already played them very competitively last year.
If Belgium makes EuroBasket 2017, the tournament will be on June 16 through 27 in the Czech Republic. And that complicates things because Meesseman could miss a minimum of a couple weeks, but perhaps as much as half the season if she doesn’t report to Washington until EuroBasket is over.
If you think the Mystics should still “look ahead” to 2018 because they could use another high draft pick (they do), then you’re probably rooting for Belgium. But if you want to see the Mystics bounce back right away and see a truly pissed off version of Meesseman (like Candace Parker in 2016 after she was snubbed from the USA Basketball women's national team), then you’re probably rooting for Belarus and Poland instead.
Usually we root for players to do well on their national teams and see them advance. But given the timing of the WNBA season, it’s a bit complicated with European nationals.
Which 2013 and 2014 Mystics draft picks stay long term?
The Mystics have relied heavily on youth to rebuild their team over the last four years. But now, the young players are about to get their sophomore contracts. It’s unlikely to see everyone back from the 2013 and 2014 Mystics rookie classes.
Meesseman signed her sophomore contract last winter so we know she’s part of the future. But 2013 first round pick Tayler Hill hasn’t signed her sophomore deal yet, and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt also is part of the conversation.
In regard to the 2014 draft class, they will have to decide whether Stefanie Dolson is worth a sophomore deal. But Bria Hartley is in a crowded guard rotation that includes Hill and 2015 second round pick Natasha Cloud. I would like to see Hartley and Dolson in D.C. for years to come, but I don’t think it’s likely.
Can the Mystics attract notable free agents?
WNBA free agency isn’t like NBA free agency. You’ll never see what we saw last summer with Kevin Durant.
In the WNBA, franchise players in their prime will never be available thanks to the “core” or franchise tag. The in-demand free agents tend to be complementary starters who are #3 or maybe #2 options on a championship caliber team.
I’m not sure if Washington can attract a legitimate #3 option on a championship team here as a free agent, though Leilani Mitchell’s signing after the Olympic break was a pleasant surprise. Still, they have a young nucleus and good coaching so they could be able to get someone who can develop into that type of a player. If there is an ideal position for a free agent, the Mystics need some additional wing or low post help.
Free agency starts in February 2017.
Who will the Mystics draft in the first round of next year’s draft?
With the second pick in next year’s draft, the Mystics should be able to pick whoever they want in a draft class where no one stands out as “the one.” But that also means that they have to do their homework.
The Mystics need to find someone who can grow with the young core that they already have. We’ll monitor how some of the best seniors are doing now that the college season is under way. You can read who some of the better players are here.