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Elena Delle Donne has back surgery to address herniated disc injury

The 2019 WNBA Most Valuable Player is expected to be ready by the regular season.

2019 WNBA Finals - Game One
Elena Delle Donne should be ready to go for the 2020 WNBA season despite having back surgery.
Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

On Wednesday, the Washington Mystics announced that Elena Delle Donne had minor back surgery last Friday, Jan. 24. The surgery specifically addressed her three herniated discs that the 2019 WNBA Most Valuable Player suffered during the Finals.

Delle Donne is expected to return on the court by the regular season. However, an update will be provided at training camp this April.

This is both good and bad news for the Mystics. The good news is that if Delle Donne’s recovery goes smoothly from here, Washington should be in good shape for the 2020 season.

However, this is bad news for Washington because of two reasons. And I’ll have to write a bit more detail on why.

First, Delle Donne had to have surgery to address her back injury, indicating that her initial recovery didn’t go as well as fans would have hoped. That’s bad enough.

Second, the surgery news only further confirms my belief that the Mystics’ championship hopes will really rely on Emma Meesseman re-signing with the team and playing in Washington whenever possible. I already wrote in detail on Washington’s need to focus on Meesseman first. That said, there is probably very little Washington can do to convince her with Belgium playing for an Olympic berth in qualifiers in early February.

But I’ll have to take this a step further to last season regarding Delle Donne’s back injury.

I honestly believed that Delle Donne was overused in the WNBA Finals in light of her injury. Meesseman should have played more minutes than her instead since the Belgian is also an “ironwoman” who never suffered any major injury that we know of — and the two can imitate each other’s styles of play really, really well.

If Meesseman played appreciably more minutes than Delle Donne (the two averaged 26.8 and 26.7 minutes per game respectively in the Finals), perhaps Washington would have won the championship in fewer games.

It seems like spilled milk because the Mystics won the WNBA championship last year now that we have the benefit of hindsight. However, I am wondering if Delle Donne’s injury was aggravated in part because she still continued to play more minutes than Meesseman, who was healthy and ended up winning the Finals MVP.

Regardless, here’s hoping that Delle Donne makes a full recovery from the surgery so the Mystics can start the 2020 season strong as defending champions.