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2021 Mystics Media Day: Elena Delle Donne talks goals, taking it slow and chemistry

Delle Donne will be returning since the 2019 championship season. She opted out the 2020 season and spent time rehabbing her back.

Team USA Portraits For Tokyo 2020 Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Washington Mystics kicked off Media Day on Monday with everyone being available except for a couple players still coming back to the states from playing overseas like Myisha Hines-Allen and Kiara Leslie. It was good to even see players who had opted out the 2020 WNBA season return and be glad to be back like Elena Delle Donne.

Delle Donne is returning since the 2019 season where she was the regular season Most Valuable Player. In 2020, her medical exemption to opt out was denied, but the Mystics still paid her salary as she rehabbed her back from surgery.

Here we are now and all eyes are on the 2019 MVP, but it seems like everything will be limited with Delle Donne as she works her way back to 100 percent. She brought up during media day the fact she has been working with some amazing people that have helped her learn to move properly and even walk and sit differently. That has helped her move more efficiently and feel safe getting back to her normal self.

“Obviously I know I’m going to have aches and pains. I’m a player who everybody knows I play through a lot of stuff,” Delle Donne said. “It’s just knowing when it’s healthy to play through it and when I feel strong and confident enough to keep going. I’m one who you usually would have to calm me down because I want to keep going and keep pushing. That’s just kind of in my nature.”

Mike Thibault, Head Coach and General Manager of the Mystics mentioned Delle Donne is not cleared to do everything and is limited and will not do any of the five-on-five or any live things for at least the first week.

“She’s been doing individual drills on the side...and the plan is to kind of continue that through at least the first week to 10 days,” Thibault said. “I’ve talked to our trainer and doctors and they feel reasonably confident that she’s making a lot of progress and by our first game she may be able to play some. but I’m not risking any of it if it jeopardizes anything. We want her to be healthy for the season, so I suspect we’ll be on limited minutes for a while.”

Despite the focus on her body and getting back to a full groove, Delle Donne knows the goal is to still win a championship because it’s the “Mystics Way”. She mentions that’s just how the Mystics and her carry themselves and approach each day and each practice.

“That’s most certainly is the goal,” she said. “If I ever enter a season and it isn’t that, I think that’s the time I need to hang up the shoes and call it quits. We have some incredible pieces to this puzzle and if all goes well and people can stay healthy and get healthy, it can be a scary team.”

That statement couldn’t have been agreed with more since this team could’ve potentially ran it back again last season if it wasn’t for the pandemic and some injuries. This season and examining the roster, it seems there’s only about four to five players returning from that 2019 championship team. That’s not to say another championship isn’t possible, but with some of the team returning after opting out as well as a few newcomers chemistry should definitely be at the top of the list.

Delle Donne states that being with one another in the locker room, moments at media day such as hanging out taking photos can attribute to developing chemistry.

“Hopefully as long as COVID and protocols work out, I’d love to do things outside of the gym where we can hang out with one another whether just be at someone’s house, but for now we’re just doing as much as we can in the building and building on and off the court comradery,” she said.