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Keys to the Palace: A lot of individual keys and lockouts in the Mystics’ last week

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Even Bria Hartley has to get one too. Because I’m the one handing the digital awards!

Stefanie Dolson takes a shot during a Mystics game Stewart W. Small

The season didn’t end on a good note from the wins and losses column for the Mystics. But there is one more set of individual Keys, Guest Palaces and Lockouts to go through. So, let’s do it.

Keys to the Palace

Stefanie Dolson: 18.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.7 apg, 2.0 bpg

Dolson’s best performance was against the Liberty when she scored a season high 23 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, dished 4 assists, and blocked three shots. She still scored at least 15 points a game in the last week. If we saw this Big Mama Stef all season, the Mystics would have been in the postseason for sure.

Emma Meesseman, 15.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 3.3 apg

Meesseman scored 9 points in the big Liberty win but when Dolson was scoring 23 points, that’s forgivable because she produced in other areas. Meesse’s best performance was a 20 point, 10 rebound outburst against the Dream.

In short, she had a good finish to a year where she made incremental improvements toward being an undisputed franchise player. Those year to year improvements in a vacuum will never win her any awards which is a shame. But I don’t think you can find a single player in the league who has improved as much as she has over a four year period.

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, 13.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.7 apg

TRP shot 46 percent in the last week over all which is much better than her season average of 36.9 percent. Though she didn’t have it as a rookie, TRP is showing potential to turn into a 3 and D player for Washington given her performance last week. I’m not 100 percent sold that she will be a starter for much longer, but she should still be a solid veteran for the Mystics — assuming she’s back in 2017.

Ally Malott, 3 ppg

Malott made three of four three pointers last week. I wish she would have had more playing time in the Connecticut game yesterday. But if she’s doing positive things when she’s on the floor, that would be enough for her to get a key given her limited role.

And that’s when handing a key becomes a concern since Malott is a first round draft pick.

Next season, I don’t expect to see all of Washington’s first round picks from 2013-2017 — Hill, Dolson, Bria Hartley (who is a de facto Mystics pick), Copper, the 2017 pick, and Malott — all on the same roster. Unless Malott develops more strength to play at the power forward position or some dribbling skills to be more at the small forward position, I’m not sure she’ll be around for opening day next spring.

Guest Passes

Tayler Hill, 13.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 4.0 apg

Hill’s strongest performance was a 20 point scoring effort against the Dream last Friday. I’m happy to see that Hill has developed an uncanny ability to get to the free throw line because she attempted 10 free throws or more in eight games this season.

The bad news with Hill is that her shooting efficiency must improve if she’s going to take the next leap toward being a bona-fide All-Star, or that perimeter scoring punch to go along with Meesseman and Dolson in the post. Last week, she shot 30 percent from the field, and her shooting range has always been around that mark for her entire career.

Kahleah Copper, 6.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.3 apg

Copper’s best performance was the season finale when she dropped 15 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Like Hill, she’s an athletic player and has potential to be a strong defender and scorer over the long term. Furthermore, seeing Copper play in Belgium with many of Meesseman’s fellow national teammates will be helpful toward her development. After all, we know Meesse is staying in Washington for awhile.

Locked out

Natasha Cloud, 4.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 4.7 apg

Cloud has solidified her place as the Mystics’ starting point guard by default. Though her rebounding and assist numbers by themselves are solid, a sub 30 percent shooting performance is not something I want to see regularly out of a starter, hence the lockout. She’s better than that.

Kia Vaughn, 3.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg

Centers shouldn’t be shooting 27.8 percent from the field. But despite one bad week, Vaughn had a successful season and is still more than capable of starting when she has to.

Leilani Mitchell, 3.7 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 3.0 apg

Mitchell is like another 2014 or 2015 Ivory Latta when things are clicking, like we saw a couple weeks ago. But she only shot 28.6 percent from the field this past week, which isn’t something you want to see out of a veteran guard. If Mitchell is back for 2017, don’t be surprised to see her become a legit competitor for the starting point guard position if the Mystics don’t get a relatively bigger name there.

Get Well Soon!

Ivory Latta and LaToya Sanders were unable to play due to injury.

And as a bonus key, Bria Hartley gets one for still being in the nation’s capital for the entire post-Olympic break!

No one would have blamed Hartley for going back to Suffolk County, New York after her announcement. But no. She stayed here. And who knows? She may stay here during this winter too!

Bria, if you have a son, can you name him Albert?

after me?

Please? ;)