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Despite the Mystics’ decline, they have no incentive to tank due to trading their 2021 first round draft pick.

The Washington Mystics have gone on a long losing streak. Usually, that means a high draft pick next year. But due to the Tina Charles trade, that means that the Dallas Wings instead of the Mystics will stand to benefit. Therefore, Washington must keep fighting on.

Las Vegas Aces v Washington Mystics
Mike Thibault will not have an easy job rebuilding the Washington Mystics after a coronavirus-hampered year.
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

The Washington Mystics are on a collision course to be the worst team in the WNBA this season. I never thought in a million years that this team, even without Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud, Tina Charles and LaToya Sanders would fall from defending champions to “league chumps” in a year.

But after another loss to the Las Vegas Aces on Saturday, it’s evident that things aren’t working, at least with on the court results. Washington’s initial three-game winning streak was a tease — and the Mystics are who they are at this point: they are a team without a player willing to put the franchise on her back.

To be fair to the Mystics, and anyone else in this situation, all players are in a bubble. They are isolated from family and friends. Low grade depression is real, even if it isn’t diagnosed by doctors, since the coronavirus pandemic has affected every American in some way. Recently, former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama said she was suffering from it, due to the pandemic, reckoning with racism and more.

And to be honest, so am I. I’ll admit it. I have low-grade depression myself. It’s difficult waking up daily wondering when life will be somewhat normal again. We have a lot of health issues, racial reckoning issue AND a series of federal elections along with it in less than three months.

And we expect the WashingtonWizards to start playing in the United States this December when there may, at least on the surface, be a transition of power with the office of the American President? On top of what will likely be another coronavirus wave?

That’s a lot to digest.

To go back to the present, we. or at least I can’t be with friends because of social distancing so we can fight the coronavirus from spreading. I can’t take respite leave or any vacation because the hospitality sector is already decimated here in America.

And in the case of international travel, much of the developed world already considers Americans “the faces of COVID-19” and have banned us from entry in the first place.

Finally, when there is a currently slumping Washington Mystics team into the mix of all of these circumstances, it has me feeling more blue than I have been in quite awhile. Some of these things, like coronavirus travel bans are “first world problems.” But the longer this pandemic lasts and the longer American mismanagement of the pandemic lasts, the more I worry that these changes will be permanent.

Given how things look, I honestly think things may very well be that way by early next year. That’s not the point of this piece, so I’ll leave those points at that.

I can’t say exactly how the current Mystics players are feeling. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they feel a bit depressed like Obama and I do.

While I certainly can feel for the Mystics, or any WNBA player who has some low grade depression, the WNBA’s basketball side doesn’t care. Washington has a seven game losing streak as they head toward the second half of the 2020 WNBA season. And for those of you who are hoping for a high draft pick in 2021, that’s not going to matter.

The Mystics’ 2021 first round draft pick was traded to the Dallas Wings as part of a three-team deal for Tina Charles, who isn’t playing this season due to a medical exemption from coronavirus concerns. Charles also has a one-year deal, so it’s possible that she may sign with another team next season, which will set the Mystics back even further, if it happens.

So ultimately, the Mystics have no incentive to tank. Given how this season looks, it mirrors that of the 2011 team when then-General Manager and Head Coach Trudi Lacey traded away their 2012 first round draft pick for Nicky Anosike who ended up flopping.

I can’t say whether Charles will re-sign in 2021 just to have one more go-round with head coach Mike Thibault. But it appears difficult to bring her and Emma Meesseman, who is also on a contract year of her own (and on a supermax salary), back for one more run with Delle Donne to form the juggernaut frontcourt many of us were hopeful to see last spring.