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Keys to the Palace: Elena Delle Donne and Emma Meesseman are bright spots in a bad start to July

Stewart W. Small

The Mystics started their five-game road stand on the wrong foot. They lost to the Los Angeles Sparks, 76069 on July 2 despite getting a large early lead. Then on July 5, they lost again to the Phoenix Mercury, 88-80 though they never were in a prime position to win. And finally, they lost last Saturday, July 8 to the Connecticut Sun 96-92 despite another large lead.

Though Washington’s on a cold streak as of late, they also just got Emma Meesseman back, so there will be an adjustment of sorts. But I’m a little surprised that the Mystics still lost every game since she’s returned to this side of the Atlantic.

No one gets a Key this past week, but most people at least managed to earn a pass. After all, the Mystics were in prime position to win two of these games.

Guest Passes

Elena Delle Donne

Delle Donne has been her usual self last week, and she’s getting her three point efficiency back after a rather cold start to the year. Her best performance was a 28 point effort against the Sun last Saturday.

Finally, EDD was named a starter to this year’s All-Star Game. Here are some highlights of hers this season, so far:

Emma Meesseman

You may have been wondering why Meesseman came off the bench if her first two games back since EuroBasket, but the answer should be simple. It’s because Krystal Thomas wasn’t going back to the bench thanks to her play. That said, Meesseman isn’t a reserve in this league. The first two games last week were also a “second WNBA training camp” for her.

With Tayler Hill on the bench,, we got to see what Meesseman could do as a starter alongside Delle Donne last Saturday. Yes, they lost the game. But Meesseman shot 7 of 13 from the field, made both of hre threes, and scored 16 points doing so. Meesseman can be a high usage player if a team puts her in a situation where she can be that way.

Yes, Hill had a shooting slump lately. But Hill’s and Delle Donne’s usage makes it difficult for Meesseman to get touches. We’ll see if Meesseman still has Hill’s spot for the next few games. After all, it’s very hard to see three players on the court with a 25 percent usage rate at the same time.

Krystal Thomas

Thomas continued to start last week despite Emma Meesseman’s return to the USA and eventually, the starting lineup. She’s continuing to fill the role of a limited use, yet effective center as well as we would have hoped in the preseason. Thomas didn’t have a breakout (or outrageously bad) game last week, so that’s the definition of a guest pass.

Kristi Toliver

A 17 point and 7 assist performance against the Sun last Saturday was just enough to prevent Toliver from getting locked out.

Ivory Latta

Latta scored in double figures for the Sparks and Mercury games, but played poorly in the Sun game. If her shot was on point last Saturday, then the Mystics could have left the Mohegan Sun Casino (where the Sun plays) for a win.

Tianna Hawkins

Hawkins’ top performance was an 8 point, 3 rebound performance against the Mercury. But she didn’t stand out one way or another.

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt

TRP scored in double figures during two of the last three games. That’s good enough to earn her a pass, but she wasn’t mind blowingly spectacular either.


Tayler Hill

Hill didn’t have the best of weeks as she shot 3 of 15 from the field in the first two games last week. Her efficiency improved for the July 8 game when she came off the bench. But shooting 3 of 4 in one game doesn’t make up for the four or five games when she shoots 2 of 9. She’s locked out.

Natasha Cloud

She shot 20 percent from the field last week. That’s not doing anyone favors.

Not enough time for an evaluation

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough played one game last week but it was just spot duty. Meanwhile, Asia Taylor and Jennie Simms didn’t play at all.