Alright folks, let’s go back to 2019 shall we? We as Washington Mystics fans are trying to get over our 2018 WNBA Finals loss to the Seattle Storm. We, also along with the Mystics, have made the determination that they will return better as ever in a “Run It Back” attitude. As the majority of WNBA athletes were playing overseas, we were preparing for training camp and the start of the 2019 season.
In April 2019, breaking news came out that Seattle forward Breanna Stewart had tore her Achilles colliding with Brittney Griner in a EuroLeague Women championship game. She would be out for the entire 2019 season. So fast forward and the season begins and ends with the Storm losing in the second round of the playoffs, while their 2018 Finals opponent moved onto becoming WNBA champions.
But what if Stewart didn’t tear her Achilles in 2019? Would the Mystics still be champions? Would Elena Delle Donne still be a front-runner for league MVP?
Would the Mystics still win the title?
First and foremost, I never want to take away the Mystics’ hard-earned victory to become champs. I have to make that clear. But there’s always the what if factor simply because the then-reigning champs, Seattle Storm, lost two heavily needed players on their team before and early during the season began: Stewart and Sue Bird. The expectation was a 2018 Finals rematch and of course it never happened. Is it safe to say that Washington would’ve possibly lost? Yes, but I for one don’t believe it to be true and here’s why.
Summarizing the 2018 season for the Mystics and having to pick one word would be unexpected and full of injuries. During this season, Washington dealt with a lot of injuries within the team. The main and significant injury was with Elena Delle Donne who sustained a knee injury during Game 2 of the semifinals against the Atlanta Dream.
At that moment, it just seemed like the season was over for them, but prevailed moving onto the Finals but then was swept by Stewart and the Storm. I’m definitely saying Washington wouldn’t have lost if injuries didn’t play a part, but that’s another story.
*Ahem* Moving on to the 2019 season where the whole “what-if” comes to play. Realistically, Stewart was out the entire season, but Seattle still made the playoffs as a sixth seed finishing 18-16 in the regular season. Unfortunately, the Los Angeles Sparks ended their run in the second round. Natasha Howard led the team in points and rebounds, a stat line normally held by Stewart. Jordin Canada led in assists, since Bird was out as well. Washington moved on with ease winning their first championship in franchise history. That’s the reality without Stewart.
Now let’s rewind to the beginning of the 2019 season with a HEALTHY Stewart (I guess Sue Bird too) and Seattle is fully stocked. Yes, they would still make the playoffs with a solid squad. A change on their part would be seeding in the playoffs. Stewart has been a dominant force since she came into the WNBA and in college at UConn, so she would absolutely play a factor in how the Storm would place. That being said, I’d move Seattle from a sixth seed to a third seed only because no one could touch Washington at number one and the Connecticut Sun clicked so easily and knocked opponents out in their path. Another change would be the Storm advancing to the semifinals to face the Sun for a spot in the WNBA Finals.
So the 2019 WNBA Semifinals would be the Connecticut Sun vs the Seattle Storm and Washington Mystics vs Las Vegas Aces. The Finals prediction would be the 2018 finals rematch we originally wanted: the Storm and Mystics.
With the Storm predictably healthy and Stewart leading the pack and the Mystics still having their slight injury issues with Kristi Toliver and Delle Donne. I suspect the Finals to go all five games with each team winning both games on their home floor followed by a close nail-bitting win from the 2019 champs....Washington Mystics.
Even if Stewart didn’t tear her Achilles, it wouldn’t change the already set in stone reality of the Mystics winning. The only aspect it would POSSIBLY change is who the league MVP would be.
Fight for League MVP between Stewart and Delle Donne
Delle Donne won the 2019 WNBA MVP award after having a stellar season. She became the first WNBA player to join the 50-40-90 club, becoming the ninth player ever to achieve it. While averaging 19.5 points per game, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists, Delle Donne led the Mystics to the playoffs and a championship. I can predict Stewart would’ve averaged a double-double as she came close to in 2018 (21.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg).
She’d definitely have 25-plus points a game along with 10-plus rebounds a game, but I still doubt she’d win over Delle Donne unless of course it comes to tie which would cause a huge roar. But I do believe being part of the 50-40-90 club holds significant weight, so Stewart would have to settle for a close runner-up instead.
So what if Breanna Stewart didn’t tear her Achilles in 2019? Would much have changed that could alter the past? Despite the status of the Seattle Storm and their playoff placement, everything else would be the same. Maybe it’s the Mystics’ fan and writer in me talking or maybe just maybe Stewart being out in 2019 doesn’t hold much value as we presume it would.
Sorry, but not sorry Stewie.