The Washington Mystics are close to signing long-time Seattle Storm forward Alysha Clark, according to Rachel Galligan of WInsidr and Kareem Copeland of The Washington Post. Clark is a two-time WNBA All-Defensive team player where she made the second team in 2019 and the first team in 2020.
Sources have told @winsidr that Alysha Clark and the Washington Mystics are close to a verbal agreement.— Rachel Galligan (@RachGall) January 28, 2021
Last year, Clark made $85,800 with the Storm. Given that she is an unrestricted free agent, Washington is probably offering her a higher salary though probably not at a max level. Still, it’s a little surprising to me that she left the Storm to go to the Mystics right after Seattle won the championship last year. But Clark is a 3-and-D player whom I believe will provide a boost for Washington this summer, and she’ll fit in well with the veteran core that’s already in place.
I also find Clark to be a player who is easy to root for, given how she came into the WNBA. More on that below. This is a big move for Washington either way.
What was Clark’s production last year?
In 2020, she averaged a career-high 10.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game for the Storm. She also shot a career-high 55.8 percent from the field and 52.2 percent from three. And just so you know that she is a good shooter (after all, one made three out of one attempt is a 100 percent shooting percentage), Clark averaged 1.6 made threes per game in each of the last two seasons.
That said, Clark is best known as a lockdown defender and her biggest impacts won’t be on the stat sheet. She often guards the opposing team’s best scorer and disrupts other teams’ offenses, even if she doesn’t end up with a steal or block.
Why would Clark be a good fit for Washington, perhaps a better fit than Aerial Powers?
Besides her defensive ability, it’s also important to balance out ball-dominant players like Elena Delle Donne and Myisha Hines-Allen on offense with other players who don’t need the ball every possession to be effective like Clark. Though Powers will be missed, Clark may be a better fit since she wouldn’t demand the ball as much. Her usage rate was just 12.5 percent last season and was never higher than 16 percent in any of her WNBA seasons.
Is there anything else that you have to add that makes Clark unique?
Yes. I’d say that Clark’s journey into the WNBA makes her an easy player to root for. And I’m biased. I rooted for her success in the league since she was a young rookie as well.
Clark, unlike most WNBA players, is from a midmajor program, where she played at Belmont (2005-07) and later at Middle Tennessee State (2008-10). She was actually a power forward in college where she was the NCAA Division I leading scorer in the 2009-10 season averaging 28.3 points a game. Making the transition from a post player to a wing player is very difficult, perhaps moreso because Clark is listed at 5’11. If there’s one skill that helped ease her transition from the post to the wing, it’s that Clark has been a strong three point shooter throughout her career.
She was the 17th overall pick in the 2010 Draft to the then-San Antonio Silver Stars (now the Las Vegas Aces) but didn’t make the team. Then-Swish Appeal site manager Nate Parham wrote several columns on Clark and her journey when she was trying to make San Antonio’s roster in both the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Nate wrote these columns so well so please click on the links to learn more about her journey to the league.
Ultimately, she made the Storm’s roster in 2012. And from there, Clark worked her way up from being a seldom used reserve to being a key veteran starter who was part of two WNBA championship teams in 2018 and 2020.
The Mystics have their fair share of players who were second round picks but made big names for themselves like Emma Meesseman, Myisha Hines-Allen and Natasha Cloud. So it’s kind of fitting that they have another great player in Clark who overcame long odds to earn her place in the league.