Natasha Cloud is ready for her fifth WNBA season with the only team she’s suited up for in her WNBA career, the Washington Mystics.
After getting swept 3-0 to Seattle Storm in the Finals last year, the recently re-signed guard spent the past eight months training and promoting the Mystics in D.C. and in London, United Kingdom.
I spoke to Cloud about why she didn’t go overseas, her offseason training and her mentality going into the 2019 season.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length.
You didn’t go overseas like many of your WNBA colleagues. Why?
Natasha Cloud: I chose not to go overseas mainly to protect my body. I have a torn left hip labrum so when you’re talking about me going into restricted free agency and trying to secure a contract for my future in the WNBA, I thought it was in my best interest to stay home and protect my body, rehab and really focus on what I needed to work on for the 2019 season with the Mystics.
How did you spend your offseason?
Cloud: I spent all offseason doing marketing and promotions for the Mystics as well as working out. I focused on what I need to add into my game to continue to grow as player.
What was your involvement with the G-League this summer?
I talked to the Go-Go GM Pops Mensah-Bonsu about my interest getting into coaching after my playing career so he let me stick around and learn about the dynamics of the league as well as learn more as a point guard. It was super insightful. It was a good opportunity that I’m thankful of Pops for.
What did your marketing position entail?
Cloud: After the new Entertainment and Sports Arena was completed, we needed faces in the community. We let the community know we are here. We let them know we want them to support us as much as we want to support them. For me, it was really important to get out into Congress Heights, a predominantly minority community.
It’s important for me as a strong black female athlete to show my face and give young females an aspiration and gateway to something bigger.
Going into the offseason, what did you feel like you needed to improve?
Cloud: Definitely my in-between shots. Everyone knows I like to get to the basket but in our league, it’s extremely hard to get there once you have an opponent who is 6’5 waiting for you in the paint. I really focused in my in-between shot, different ways to get to the basket, and more ways to finish.
I also worked on making my three-point shot more consistent this season.
You averaged a career best 43.6 percent from the field last season, what are you going to do to make sure you stay at that level?
Cloud: Get in the gym. I’ve been trying to get in the gym as much as possible.
I think that’s where I grew most as a player: not allowing my shot to change. If I can shoot the same shot down the floor, it’s just going to make my percentage go up.
How does losing in the Finals last year affect you going into this season?
Cloud: Our whole team has a chip on our shoulders. It was a really big accomplishment for us after rebuilding for several years. We got swept, but we really wanted to bring home a championship to D.C. That’s how we will approach next season. We want to ‘run it back’. I think that’s our team slogan that Kristi came up with. We want to get back in the Finals with our core group and have that opportunity to win a championship.
How do you feel about playing in the new Entertainment and Sports Arena?
Cloud: I’m really excited. I know we usually get more fans than what it exceeds but that’s a good thing for us when you’re talking about being able to have a great environment for us to play in as a home team and have an advantage because it will be loud. The Capital One Arena has been good to us but we haven’t been able to fill it out.
Our new arena gives us that opportunity to have that home court advantage.