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Keys to the Palace: Is it fair to lock every Mystics player out after another bad week?

I offer you two approaches on how to take a bad week.

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The Mystics finished their road trip last week with two losses.

They first lost on Wednesday to the Phoenix Mercury 78-74. Then on Friday, they lost 80-51 to the Seattle Storm in the most embarrassing way possible because they just didn’t show up.

Before you come out and say that I’m trying to “throw dirt” on a night when former co-franchise player Lauren Jackson came back to her old stomping grounds and saw her number get put up into the rafters, I didn’t watch the game to root for the Storm. I watched it to see if the Mystics have what it takes to win while facing a lot of adversity. They failed miserably.

Don’t get me wrong, Lauren Jackson is an all-time great. And the Storm deserves props for pulling out all the stops to make this a night to remember for their fans. But we’re here to talk about the team from Washington, D.C., not Washington State.

So, with that we go to two different approaches on how to evaluate players.

My approach: Every Mystics player is locked out

My belief is that every Mystics player should be locked out for last week (July 11 to 17). Sometimes, one game can be so bad that it should be grounds to lock everyone out. We can’t hand out a trophy all the time, and that loss is enough to show you why.

I immediately felt that every Mystics player should be locked out after watching that blowout. And though I’m over the initial sting of the loss, I haven’t changed.

Some players had great stats, but they still didn’t even bother showing up in that Seattle game at critical moments like the second quarter. That loss alone is why everyone should be locked out. Also, the Mystics have lost five games in a row. I can’t reward anyone after what I’ve seen.

And this is the most frustrating thing about the five game losing streak. All of the games, even the Seattle loss last Friday and the Sparks loss a couple of weeks ago, were “winnable.” In the Storm loss, the Mystics already beat them in Seattle earlier this season. And with the Sparks loss, the Mystics were playing them rather evenly until the fourth quarter.

Alternative Approach: Giving passes anyway to players who weren’t so bad

In fairness, I also get that some players still were better than others. Some of you may be amenable to giving them a guest pass. I don’t see anyone earning a Key in any circumstance, but it’s fair for us to acknowledge those who were better.

First, let’s go through some of the players who clearly deserved to be locked out.

Most of the Mystics — especially the guards — had some very bad weeks and should be lockouts in any week. Starters Natasha Cloud and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt averaged 3 points a game and together shot less than 25 percent from the field. Tayler Hill averaged 9 points a game, but shot just 22.7 percent from the field to get there. Even Ivory Latta shot just 30 percent from the field last week.

The guards weren’t alone when it came to bad performances. The posts had bad performances as well. Stefanie Dolson shot just 26.7 percent for the week and was scoreless during the Phoenix loss. Kia Vaughn also just managed shoot 25 percent from the field.

Three players had better weeks statistically, so I’m going to point them out here. They’re the ones who you can make a case giving a guest pass for.

  • Emma Meesseman - She averaged 19 points and 7 rebounds a game. She shot 57.1 percent from the field AND made all four of three point attempts. Last, but not least, she had a 26.2 percent usage rating — well above her average of 21.4 percent. There is no doubt that Meesseman had a great week statistically and was as efficient as ever. But when she is still managing to shoot less than other less-efficient players during the Storm loss, especially during the second quarter, that’s very disappointing to say the least.
  • Kahleah Copper - Copper averaged 9 points and 6 rebounds last week off the bench. She has been outplaying Tierra Ruffin-Pratt in each of the last couple weeks overall, so there’s a good chance she’ll be starting ahead of her because ... Copper is producing on the offensive end of the ball.
  • Bria Hartley - Her turnovers last week were high, but she was a more consistent shooter than any other Mystics guard where she made four out of her six three point shots.

(* * *)

The Mystics play at home since they have two more games this week before the month-long Olympic break. They play the Liberty on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. and the Sparks on Friday at 7 p.m. On the surface, this losing streak will easily hit seven games, but the Mystics have turned things around before when people started counting them out. So don’t be too surprised if they are able to win at least one of these two games.