The Mystics won last night against the Liberty, 75-62. By doing so, it kept them in the playoff race for at least a few more hours, pending the result of a Mercury vs. Sparks game late at night. The Sparks (who have been slumping in the post-Olympic break), beat Phoenix 90-85.
So in short, by winning the Liberty game last night, the Mystics have guaranteed that they will not fall further than 9th place in the WNBA this season. But if they miss the playoffs, they will have the lowest chance of winning the first pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft.
And because the Mercury lost, the Mystics are still able to get into the playoffs if they win their last two games and the Mercury lose their last two games. If the Mystics are in the playoffs, they’re going to be the eighth place team. This is because even if the 7th seeded, 15-17 Seattle Storm lose their last two games, they own the tiebreaker against the Mystics because they won the regular series, 2-1.
So what should the Mystics do?
Well, they’re either the last WNBA Playoff team, or the team with the lowest chance of getting a #1 draft pick, neither of which are desirable options to me. But with the latter, at least the Mystics have slightly more long term options at their disposal — unless they get lucky and get the number one pick.
I’ll be blunt and up front about my bias. I’d rather take my chances with the lottery because they can’t fall lower that fourth in next year’s draft. If God is smiling down on the Mystics for working hard to be competitive these last several years — which they have — perhaps they will get a higher pick.
I still think that the Mercury is more than capable of winning one of their last two games and get that last spot. So I think the Mystics will still be lottery bound. But at this point, the Mystics might as well not intentionally stink up their play. What I said in the preview for the Liberty game is now moot.
But things don’t look too bright in Washington either way. Even with their bumper crop of young players, they don’t have enough talent to be a contender because most of the team is made up of low draft picks who aren’t playing way above “normed expectations” — Emma Meesseman is an exception of course. And unfortunately, it’s unlikely that they will get an opportunity to get a high draft pick who can help make an near All-Star impact upon arrival.