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May Mystics Mailbag Questions: The arena move, center rotations, championship repeat chances and more

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In the second part of our mailbag, we will take a look at the Washington Mystics and some of the questions we received.

UCONN Womens Basketball v USA Women’s National Team
Is Tina Charles a “true” center? And where would she fit in the Washington Mystics’ rotation?
Photo by Pamela Costello/NBAE via Getty Images

Hello everyone! We received a good number of Mystics questions, and here are some of them below. I decided to answer our Mystics questions specifically this month.

If you missed the questions from our Wizards questions mailbag, click here!


Do you think the Mystics’ arena move last year was a good thing? (Stéphanie Lahaye, email)

It was one of the best things that could’ve happened for the Mystics. Far as fans and attendance, it’s definitely a better look, and a more raucous atmosphere at a sold out arena at Entertainment and Sports Arena holding 4,000+ people than being in Capital One Arena that holds over 20,000 with only 4,000 filling in the seats.

Having their own arena helped the Mystics to develop more of an identity and have a place they could really call home. The only losing factor was losing the abundance of close-by places such as restaurants and museums where fans could walk to.

The arena near Congress Heights doesn’t have many nearby restaurants or fast casual chains as Cap One does near Gallery Place. That is likely changing in the years ahead, however. The St. Elizabeth’s East Campus, where ESA specifically is located, is developing many of the buildings on that campus into living and commercial space.

Of course there’s pros and cons to everything, but definitely still a good move.

What is the Mystics’ biggest weakness this season? (Mike Lindsay, email)

For Washington, their biggest weakness would have to be point guard, since losing Kristi Toliver. That is not to say Leilani Mitchell won’t bring it up when the season starts, but there comes a question of who’s dependable as a backup.

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough was traded to New York in the Charles deal and Kiara Leslie hasn’t played since Washington drafted her in 2019. When saying point guard as a weakness, I mean that in all aspects: starting core and reserve. That’s literally the only position Washington has to prove anything at.

As much as Natasha Cloud can play the one and two position, too much of depending on her can potentially cause a negative reaction and even put too much on her shoulders.

Do you think Emma Meesseman would have had a similar WNBA career with another team? (Stéphanie)

No. I don’t believe other teams would have utilized Meesseman as effectively as the Mystics did. If she were drafted by another team, especially in 2013, it is possible that she could have been cut.

Different teams have different needs in various years. Meesseman was fortunate to have been drafted into the right team at the right time. When she was drafted in 2013, the Mystics were starting a multi-year rebuild after a 11-57 stretch in the previous two seasons. They needed many young players to play significant roles over long term, which certainly increased Meesseman’s chances of making the roster, though the Mystics’ recent documentary apparently indicated that they were keeping her that season, no matter what.

Fast forward to today, the Mystics decided to trade their first round pick in a package for Tina Charles. And they cut their draft picks to make their 11-woman roster yesterday. Timing is everything.

But to your point on if she played for another team that’s not the Mystics, I don’t think Meesseman would have developed into the type of player we see on the Mystics today. I’ll go so far to say that she wouldn’t be as big of a star as she has become for the Belgian national team or EuroLeague Women play.

It’s always been a hunch of mine that teams other than Washington focused more heavily on one player and how to build around that one player. For example, the Chicago Sky tended to focus on Elena Delle Donne after drafting her in 2013. And the New York Liberty tended to focus a bit too heavily on Tina Charles before she was traded to Washington last month.

But with the Mystics, every player’s strength was utilized including Meesseman’s. It’s not to say Meesseman’s skill set wouldn’t have prospered, but it’s more so being said that other teams didn’t have what it took to handle such talent. And let’s be honest. There would be no championship without Emma Meesseman. Bullets Forever founder Mike Prada wrote about her play in last year’s playoffs here.

Are the Mystics going to try and acquire a ‘true’ center, or are they content with Charles and Meesseman at that position? (Ebenezer Famutimi, email)

I wouldn’t say content so to speak and plus the Mystics have many options at center. I also don’t think a center HAS to be a bruiser who only shoots from 10-15 feet or less.

You mentioned Tina Charles and Emma Meesseman as options — and they can also move to power forward given their shooting touch. But also, LaToya Sanders and even Myisha Hines-Allen from the infamous ‘Bench Mob’ can spend time there. All but Charles have won a championship last year and have shown that they can more than “hold their own” against a Liz Cambage or a Brittney Griner.

Being champions, I believe the Mystics are more than just content at center. Most teams have one solid center they depend on whereas, Washington has options that can help them throughout the season. The positional versatility the Mystics have is an advantage over their opponents.

What will it take for Washington to repeat as champions? (Mike)

This is simple. It will take belief in one another as well (like how last year’s team gelled) as drowning out the outside noise. The biggest thing the Mystics dealt with for numerous seasons was injuries to key players late in the season, so the only obstacle that stands in their way is themselves.

Though they are bringing most of their players back and nearly everyone is still in her prime, the Mystics can’t let winning last season in 2019 get into their heads. It is important they don’t develop the mentality that they deserve every victory.

It’s all mental and everyone has to be on the same page.