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The next WNBA CBA will answer whether the Mystics can truly call Emma Meesseman part of their foundation

The All-Star forward has as much talent as anyone would hope. But her absences for international commitments and the team’s improvement without her make us wonder whether she should be considered part of the future.

Las Vegas Aces v Washington Mystics
Emma Meesseman walks into the Entertainment and Sports Arena before the Mystics played the Aces on July 13.
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

In the last two Wizards’ seasons, there has been a debate about where then-Washington point guard Tomas Satoransky fit into Washington’s plans. Since his first NBA season in 2016-17, he was always viewed as a complementary piece and as John Wall’s backup. But when Wall began to suffer numerous injuries while Satoransky proved to be a good point guard in his own right, fans openly debated whether he was a suitable replacement.

That’s a moot point now, of course.

The Mystics sort of have a similar situation on their hands. Emma Meesseman has played for them since 2013 and was an All-Star in 2015. Though European women’s basketball players are notorious for missing considerable parts of seasons for their national teams, Meesseman never missed a game for Washington until 2017 when her native Belgium made Women’s EuroBasket. Since then, the Cats have become a legitimate international force on their own.

Normally, when teams miss an All-Star for any reason, they suffer. The Mystics however improved without her as Natasha Cloud and Tianna Hawkins showed their worth in the league. Elena Delle Donne also replaced Meesseman as the team’s starting power forward and Washington made the 2018 WNBA Finals. Though Meesseman is nearly four years her junior, Washington has just been mediocre with her, even in the last two seasons.

And of course, some of our own commenters are getting fatigue over Meesseman’s absence and her future. Take into consideration kalorama’s comment from our post earlier this week when Kristi Toliver was named to the WNBA All-Star team:

Sorry Albert but this [quote]

‘At the same time, a player like Meesseman would be like a Dirk Nowitzki if the WNBA had more international-friendly rules.’

is a terrible analogy. The idea that Meesseman is somehow being discriminated against (or “minimized”) by the WNBA because she’s not American doesn’t seem particularly valid or fair.

Dirk Nowitzki was Dirk Nowitzki without the benefit of “more international-friendly rules.” He played — and won — by NBA rules. If Meesseman wants to be seen as a key player for both the Mystics and the WNBA (as opposed to a “luxury”) then the onus is on her to adapt to — and excel in — her circumstances and environment, not the other way around. And part of that is making a fuller commitment to being a WNBA player and not skipping large parts or wholes of seasons. I understand why she might not want to do that, but that’s her choice. And choices come with consequences.

While I disagree with kalorama that Meesseman is not a potential “Dirk Nowitzki,” it is also fair to say that Meesseman needs to embrace the WNBA more, assuming she wants to fulfill her potential in the United States.

The WNBA is in America, not Belgium and Europeans should follow Americans’ rules just like the reverse is true when American stars play in Europe. So from this standpoint, it’s justifiable why Meesseman was suspended earlier this season for representing her country.

But at the same time, the WNBA calls itself the best women’s basketball league in the world. Europe is the strongest continent from top to bottom. And at least some more Europeans would be in the WNBA if the league was more flexible.

The WNBA’s next Collective Bargaining Agreement will be hammered out next year. There are plenty of debates to be had about pay and travel. But little has been mentioned about what should happen to the league’s draconian international rules.

So with that in mind, here’s my question:

Should the Mystics consider Emma Meesseman an integral part of their core? Or should they consider her a luxury? Few people are going to dispute her talent level. She’s a world class player and in an ideal world, Meesseman would be part of the foundation. That said, the reality is that unless the WNBA changes the next CBA to be more friendly to players like her, they should consider her a player who is NICE to have instead of someone they MUST have.

Let us know in the comments below on what you think regarding this topic!