Few people coming into the 2019 WNBA season question how good Washington Mystics forwards Elena Delle Donne and Emma Meesseman are individually. Delle Donne is now a two-time WNBA MVP and 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist. Meesseman is a EuroLeague Women’s Final Four MVP and a WNBA All-Star.
Unfortunately, since Delle Donne came to the Mystics in 2017, the two forwards never got to play much together. Meesseman’s native Belgium became a European and world power in women’s basketball, which caused her to miss much of the 2017 and 2019 seasons. She missed all of the 2018 season to focus on the FIBA Women’s World Cup where they finished in fourth place.
And even when the two played together in 2017, it wasn’t like they had many great games together. The chemistry just wasn’t there in my opinion.
I wasn’t surprised that the Mystics experimented with Meesseman coming off the bench as Delle Donne’s backup early this season. Before Meesseman left to represent Belgium in Women’s EuroBasket 2019, Washington would play with either her OR Delle Donne as the power forward, but they didn’t spend much time together.
After Kristi Toliver’s knee injury last August, Meesseman came back to the starting lineup alongside Delle Donne and the two have begun to flourish together, especially now in the WNBA Playoffs. Both averaged 21.3 points per game each in the playoffs. They also add a combined 13.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game.
It just seems that they are imitating each other at times. Delle Donne has incorporated a lot more passing in her game, a key part of what makes Meesseman so deadly. And Meesseman has begun to shoot without hesitation and show more emotion on the court after big plays, something Delle Donne has been known for awhile.
On Tuesday, the Mystics won 94-90 against the Las Vegas Aces in Game 4 of their WNBA semifinals series. Delle Donne scored 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting and made 5-of-7 three pointers. All excellent numbers.
But Meesseman added 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting off the bench after starting in place of the still-recovering Toliver. Meesseman made all four of her three-point shots, bouncing back from a 6 point performance in a 92-75 loss in Game 3 last Sunday when the Aces focused on frustrating her. Before that Game 3 loss, Meesseman had a 27 point outburst in a Game 1 win and a career-high 30 point performance in Game 2.
In Game 4, both Delle Donne and Meesseman were at their best, leading Washington to a WNBA Finals-clinching win. They developed new dimensions to their games, know when to dominate and when to defer, especially if one of them is having an off-night.
Winning the WNBA Finals won’t be easy against the Connecticut Sun, but the Mystics have figured out how to utilize Delle Donne and Meesseman as a duo. Their chemistry will be essential for them to win it all this season.