Since Elena Delle Donne came to the Mystics in 2017, she’s been the team’s franchise player. In two seasons with the Mystics, Washington advanced further in the playoffs than any other Eastern Conference team, including the franchise’s first WNBA Finals appearance in 2018.
Though the Mystics are undefeated against teams not named the Connecticut Sun with a 4-2 record overall, Delle Donne is also averaging a career-low 14.0 points per game while shooting 41.9 percent from the field, also a career-low. Is it something to worry about?
I’m not exactly sure, so here are some reasons why Delle Donne’s slow start is worrisome and why it isn’t.
Why Delle Donne’s slow start is a concern
- She is shooting at career-worst numbers — In 2019, Delle Donne is shooting just 39.6 percent from the field before shooting 5-for-9 in Washington’s loss to the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday. Since her hot 7-of-9 shooting performance in the Mystics’ home opener, Delle Donne had three consecutive nights where she only made about a third of her shots.
- She is historically injury prone — Delle Donne has never played every game in a 34-game regular season. This season won’t be any different because she is still recovering from a left knee injury.
- The Mystics haven’t played top-tier competition besides the Sun — They haven’t played the Lynx yet in regular season competition, yet they lost to them in the preseason. And they also haven’t played against the Mercury, Sparks and Aces. If Delle Donne isn’t performing at her best, these teams can take advantage of that. Two of Washington’s wins have come against teams that don’t figure to make much of an impact in the WNBA playoff race in were against the Liberty and Dream, who are the worst two teams in the league. The Dream are also 1-4.
- If the rest of the team slumps while Emma Meesseman’s gone, they’re in trouble — Any player can have a two or three game stretch where she is in a shooting slump. Fortunately, when Delle Donne was shooting poorly, other players stepped up to the plate. But if the team gets into a collective slump over a week or two weeks while Meesseman is training for EuroBasket Women, then it’s going to be a rough June.
Why Delle Donne’s slow start is not a concern
- EDD has “Meesseman-ized” her game by passing the ball more — Talk about Emma Meesseman being a passive player all you want. But in the last two years, Delle Donne has relied more on passing than ever before. Last year, Delle Donne averaged 2.6 assists per 36 minutes played. This season? It’s 3.4! That’s very close to Meesseman’s 3.7 assists per 36 minutes played this season, which is also her career-high. Going back to Delle Donne, perhaps her game is changing to include passing — and it’s been very effective.
- Other Mystics players have stepped up — We have seen Ariel Atkins, Natasha Cloud, Aerial Powers and Tianna Hawkins put up big performanes in the past week. If they’re having hot streaks, then there’s no reason for Delle Donne to “go get the team a bucket.”
- Delle Donne should be back to form sooner rather than later — Delle Donne did score 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting against the Sun though she didn’t make a three. At some point, she’ll be putting 25 points a game for three or four straight games, right?
- It’s not like the Aces and Mercury are dominating — Both teams have losing records as of games played through June 11. The Mercury have lost to the Lynx who probably will fall down to Earth later in the season and they lost to the Fever though they are without Diana Taurasi. And while the Aces had a tough slate of games in their schedule, they were the first team to lose to the Liberty back on June 9.
Are you worried about Elena Delle Donne having a slow start to her 2019 season as a scorer? A poll’s below (unless you are reading this page via Google AMP or Apple News and will last for two days until Friday June 12 at 6 p.m. ET.
Should the Mystics be worried about Elena Delle Donne’s slow start to her 2019 season?
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And of course, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.