One of the greatest parts of media day this past Monday came when Natasha Cloud sat down. The energy she gave whether it was from seeing journalists she knew and loved or from her enthusiasm or just simply being her energetic self...was what we all needed to see.
As mentioned before numerous times, there have been so many changes to the Washington Mystics roster since 2019. So it’s been hard to figure out how this team plans to move forward and make adjustments early on especially without their 2019 Finals MVP, Emma Meesseman, who may or may not return after the Tokyo Olympics.
One thing’s for sure the Mystics are not new to making adjustments. Just go back and look at their 2020 season in the bubble. Now examining the roster and what could come about, Cloud believes the team’s versatility is what excites her the most and opponents need to be made aware.
“Even though we have some people out, we’ve lost some people to injury, we still have a really scary team on paper. Right now it’s just fine-tuning and adjusting to each other figuring out our strengths, our weaknesses and really just gelling,” she said. “I think we’re being kind of swept under the rug which I like that. Last two years, we’ve had a target on our back, but I think we’re going to shock a lot of people in this league. You know me, that’s the underdog mentality, so we ready.”
It’s going to be an interesting start with so much going on with new faces and injuries, but the one thing Elena Delle Donne mentioned during media day, as well as Cloud, is that off the court chemistry with the team is a must and needed if being on the court is going to be successful. Cloud talked about how if the team knows she’s going to be there for them off the court then it’ll definitely translate to on the court.
“Getting to know each other on the court, that’s the easy part. We can just get to go out and play. I think Coach T does a really good job every year of our training camps,” Cloud said. “We kind of don’t put in plays. We kind of run open sets. We got to figure out how to gel with each other that way. For me as a point guard, first and foremost, creating those relationships off the court and just figuring it out. We’re going to make mistakes in training camp and this is the time to do it.”
With Cloud as the most likely starting point guard, we’ll definitely get to see what Head Coach Mike Thibault has up his sleeve with alternating between Cloud and Leilani Mitchell or even having them on the court at the same time. Both players mentioned how well they could complement one another on the court and work together.
Mitchell came in during the second half of the season in 2016 but then signed with the Phoenix Mercury in free agency. Cloud spoke of playing with Mitchell in her second year and loved how they meshed.
“I’m really excited to get back with her. It is like that one-two punch that we had here with me and Kristi [Toliver],” Cloud said. “I’m just really excited to make Leilani’s job a little bit easier too. To have her be able to come off the ball screens and down screens...and just find her and getting her easy shots.”
When talking with Mitchell, she expressed her excitement about playing with Cloud and how much she’s grown on and off the court. Mitchell even went on to talk about Cloud’s game and how it could assist her with her shooting.
“Just watching her game develop over the last few years has been fun and exciting. She just plays with a lot of energy,” Mitchell said. “Obviously she’s the emotional leader of the team and she’s quick to get the ball up the court, so playing with her is exciting. I like to shoot three’s so that’ll be good to play with her where she can get some shots for me and I think we complement each other well.”
That seems to be how the entire team feels about Cloud as a whole, just how she’s able to be that leader that everyone can confide in or be that source of energy needed to give a great boost. When asked many of her teammates said that this team gives off a family-style vibe and Cloud is the one that’s most memorable and looked up to.