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2015 Mystics Player Evaluations, Part 2: Grading the frontcourt

Let's take a look at each of the Mystics' frontcourt players and talk about something we'd like to see from each of them next year.

Stewart W. Small

On Monday, we shared our player grades and evaluations for each of the Mystics' guards. Today, we'll do the same thing with their forwards and centers.

Stefanie Dolson - A-

Stats - 10.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.1 bpg

Summary - It was originally expected that Dolson would remain Kia Vaughn's backup. However, Vaughn suffered some early injuries which forced Dolson into the starting lineup. It ended up being the best major frontcourt rotation change all season.

Dolson made significant improvements to her game from last season where she added a reliable three-point shot to her offense and became less foul prone when she averaged 5.2 fouls per 36 minutes in 2014 to 4.2 this season.

The advanced numbers also help show how much she improved. Dolson's usage rating increased along with a significant decrease in turnover percentage (23.1 percent in 2014 to 16.2 percent in 2015). Next season, expect to see Big Mama Stef play closer to 30 minutes per game and repeat her All-Star performance this season.

Ally Malott - C

Stats - 3.3 ppg, 40.7 percent shooting from the three-point line

Summary - Malott played sparingly this past season. The positive I saw from her was that her three-point shooting was as good as advertised. However, I didn't see too much else from her.

In order for Malott to get more playing time next season, she is going to have to either gain more strength and become a more reliable rebounder. Or perhaps she may have to develop her perimeter skills more so she can play more small forward in large lineups.

But with Dolson and Emma Meesseman becoming legitimate stretch posts themselves, I don't know if this will happen unless there are player injuries involved. Malott is just going to find a hard time getting on the floor consistently unless she develops another part of her game besides shooting.

Emma Meesseman - B+

Stats - 11.6 ppg, 6.3 ppg, 1.7 apg, 1.3 bpg

Summary - The Mystics' do-it-all power forward improved her shooting percentages, added a three-point shot (46.2 percent from deep), and overall post defense while lowering her turnover percentage. When you look at a list of the Top-10 WNBA players in a variety of advanced metrics, Meesseman ranked in many of them. It all but confirms the fact that she is the Mystics' best player.

That said, I didn't give Meesseman an A- or better because I still don't think that she has flipped "the switch" yet -- especially as a scorer. At this point, her apparent lack of aggression is a mental thing.

Despite the fact that she is an efficient scorer -- at least for a post -- from virtually anywhere on the court, her usage rate remained below 20 percent. In addition, Meesseman also had a lackluster July when she averaged just 9 points per game -- around the same time when she was announced as an All-Star Game reserve. Fortunately, she regained her early season form in August and September when she became a more assertive three-point shooter.

I'm not saying that Meesseman has to be a 20 point per game scorer every night like Maya Moore or Elena Delle Donne. But she is clearly Washington's best player, and if she really is a superstar in the making, it's time that she takes that initiative.

The Mystics franchise is Meesseman's if she really wants it. But I don't know if that's going to happen.

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt - A-

Stats - 7.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.1 apg

Summary - Ruffin-Pratt averaged career highs in virtually every major statistical category thanks to earning a role as the Mystics' starting small forward.

The parts of her game that I was impressed with the most was her improved three-point shooting (32.6 percent on 14-of-43 attempts) and individual defense. Ruffin-Pratt's best performances were against the Minnesota Lynx in back-to-back games where she often had to defend Maya Moore. The Mystics swept the now-2015 WNBA champs in their two meetings and Moore shot a combined 6-of-25 from the field, thanks in large part to Ruffin-Pratt.

I'll admit that I wasn't exactly a TRP fan when she started her WNBA career. But she has improved each season and has grown on me ever since. Next season, I'd like to see her become an even more reliable three-point shooter. And hopefully, she'll earn a nod on the All-Defensive team as well.

Latoya Sanders - B

Stats - 5 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2 bpg

Summary - Sanders came to Washington in the midseason, replacing rookie Kayla Thornton. Of all the Mystics' players, she had the best individual defensive rating (88) and the third best rating differential (+12), coming only second to Dolson and Meesseman.

Despite her lanky frame, Sanders was a tenacious rebounder and their best shot blocker which were key to several wins throughout the season. I was skeptical as to whether she would even play in Washington given that her rights were acquired back in 2012. But it's safe to say that Sanders has proven herself to be a valuable addition off the bench this past season, and she could even start in a pinch given her efficiency.

Kia Vaughn - B-

Stats - 5.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1 apg

Summary - Vaughn suffered a setback year thanks to a couple of injuries. First, she suffered a hip flexor injury and soon after suffered a concussion. After returning midway in the season, her per-36 scoring production still remained relatively consistent. However, she was a bit more turnover and foul prone.

With Stefanie Dolson now starting sooner than expected, it remains to be seen as to what the future holds for Vaughn in Washington. Given that she signed a contract extension before the start of the 2015 season, it won't be particularly easy to trade her.  If she's still in D.C. next year, I want Vaughn to improve her overall shooting efficiency, which has been below 50 percent in each of her seven seasons in the league.