As SB Nation’s Underdog Week continues, we take a look at the Washington Mystics.
If you haven’t followed the Mystics for very long, you may think this is a strange post to write. That’s because they are the defending WNBA champions and have been a championship title contender for the last three seasons.
But if you take a deeper look at this team, there are plenty of players who are underdogs.
Before Elena Delle Donne was traded to Washington before the 2017 season, Washington was a team that was primarily built with draft picks. I think most people knew back then that most of the picks and players from 2013-16 would never be part of a WNBA championship team, if that day ever came.
Washington has two players from the pre-Elena Delle Donne Era left. Emma Meesseman is the team’s longest-tenured player and was the 19th pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft. Natasha Cloud was the 15th pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft.
In the WNBA, second round draft picks are often nothing more than training camp minnows who get cut. And even if they make the opening day roster, they generally have short careers in the WNBA. I think it’s safe to say that Meesseman and Cloud are underdogs who made it in the league.
I’d also like to add that Mystics alumna Tierra Ruffin-Pratt is also an underdog. In my opinion, she is the underdog of underdogs! Ruffin-Pratt was not drafted before ultimately making the Mystics’ roster for her rookie season in 2013. In seven WNBA seasons and six with Washington, she has played at least 32 games in each regular season. And she started in at least 31 games in four of the last five seasons, the lone exception being 2018.
Finally, in the 2018 WNBA Finals, Connecticut Sun starting point guard Jasmine Thomas also donned Monumental Red, playing for Washington in their horrible 2011 and 2012 seasons. Thomas was also the 12th overall pick in the 2011 Draft before she eventually became one of the WNBA’s best point guards in her own right.
And yes, I know, Delle Donne isn’t an underdog-type of player. But the circumstances of the Mystics being able to get her AFTER a 13-21 regular season in 2016? I certainly think so!
I can go on and on with more underdog Mystics, but who are yours? Let us know in the comments.