The Mystics may be out of the playoffs, but their franchise cornerstone is continuing to get noticed with her great play.
Emma Meesseman was featured in an article by Ben Cohen of the Wall Street Journal as the WNBA’s Best Shooter because she leads the WNBA in three point shooting percentage (45.5 percent). She was compared against Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, the reigning two-time NBA MVP who led the league!
Is that a bit of a name drop there? Yes.
But to be fair, three point shooting is quickly becoming the new ‘slam dunk’ in basketball. Players who do it extremely well are going to get noticed. Meesseman has rightfully earned her way into these conversations.
For some perspective, three-time Champion and 2014 MVP Maya Moore shoots one percent better than twenty-three year old Meesseman from one to five feet. From every other distance, Meesseman is more efficient. But Moore is 27 and playing with a star-studded Minnesota Lynx line-up that averages well over 25 years of age, and multiple championships, not to mention the Gold Medals. Meesseman has no such support to garner the same results.
The whole article is a great read, but here are responses to some takeaways the Meesseman-naysayers will have upon reading the article.
“Meesseman is not THAT good”
Response: Yes she is. If numbers can justify the idea that the Mystics are ‘mediocre’ then those same numbers can justify the fact that indeed, Meesseman is the best three point shooter this year. She shoots 54.5 percent from everywhere else, which certainly suggests she is a ‘real shooter’.
Last year, at the age of 22, Meesseman’s shooting percentage was second in the W, playing with starter minutes. Her overall field goal percentage in 2015 was good for second in the WNBA, one percentage point behind 6’9 Brittney Griner.
And I believe I addressed her ‘passiveness’ in February.
For those who have not been privy to that stat, I understand this may come as a shock. For many others, this is no surprise, and warranted.
Here is a terrific sample of her skill-set against the Minnesota Lynx this year, below.
Meesseman is not Stephen Curry
Response: No she isn’t, that was a bit of a reach. For a slightly better NBA/WNBA comparison, Meesseman isn’t the league’s DeMarcus Cousins either.
But the thing is this. The article was a super nice shout-out and a great hand-off between the WNBA and NBA seasons, featuring the three point shot as an emerging part of traditionally trey-averse positions.
Meaning, the big kids usually don’t wander that far away from the basket to score. And when they do, it’s akin to watching a dog walk on it’s hind legs, unusual and entertaining.
The WNBA has started to embrace the three point shot to ‘stretch’ the floor just like many NBA teams have — like today’s Warriors. And New York’s Tina Charles is just the latest big to start to take advantage of what last year’s MVP, Elena Delle Donne, seems to have gotten all along: Rise up and shoot.
The Mystics don’t have any stars
Response: Meesseman isn’t a “superstar” for the American WNBA narrative for many people. But the Mystics definitely have very good players and they have stars. Shouldn’t we define a “star” as how a player performs? Not how a player is perceived simply because of what college she went to?
Meesseman certainly is a star for the Mystics and is getting more attention inside and outside the Association. Meesseman has no interest in stats, she simply plays and practices to improve on both sides of the floor. She’s done that, and is now one of the association’s best.
The Mystics are more than just Meesseman and a bunch of ordinary players.
Tayler Hill would have no doubt joined Stef Dolson and Meesseman in the 25-and-under Mystics All-Star club this year if this wasn’t an Olympic year. I’ve certainly been tough on her inefficiency, but it’s obvious that Hill has adopted a similar 'work-first' philosophy. Her work last off-season has paid off this year.
I believe more data is necessary to determine that these three players are basically just “three decent players.”
If Meesse is so good, why can’t the Mystics go far in the playoffs?
Response: The Mystics made the playoffs the last three out of four seasons. And despite their setback this season, they didn’t miss the postseason by much. Head Coach and GM Mike Thibault has accepted that there will be growing pains from the beginning. This kind of a season was something that shouldn’t have been completely unexpected.
What the Mystics lack in experience should be overcome in the long run with development from the core players in Coach T’s system.
He coached Tina Charles to an MVP season with the Connecticut Sun in 2012 when they made the Eastern Conference Finals. Charles is a two-time Olympian and that seems to be panning out for the Liberty since she may win the MVP again this season.
But to answer this question directly, there are superstar-led teams that miss the playoffs every year. This season, the Skylar Diggins-led Dallas Wings won’t be playoff bound despite all of the young talent they have. And last season, the Angel McCoughtry-led Atlanta Dream missed the postseason.
Bottom line: This is awesome
What a terrific accolade for Meesseman and the Mystics. She is the player that lets her game do the talking, literally and figuratively. Thibault has never felt compelled to ‘promote’ Meesseman, because the numbers speak for themselves. He’s not one to complain about his players not getting enough of the spotlight.
And here’s a nice shout out from Monumental Sports Network GM Zach Leonsis:
Meesseman does not fit into the WNBA’s marketing paradigm of NCAA superstars. But that should never keep a great player down. If efficiency is not your style, she is not your player. But evidently some people are taking notice. As well they should.
We can debate the semantics in the off-season. But simply because the Mystics are missing a piece or two does not make them a ‘perpetually bad team’ in the Mike Thibault era.
The Mystics signed Meesseman to a contract extension through 2019, and from this article, the Wall Street Journal must think it was a good investment.