On Tuesday, Rui Machida released the following statement on signing with the Washington Mystics.
I‘m humbled and thrilled to be offered this incredible opportunity to play for [the] Washington Mystics in [the] WNBA. I want to express my deep appreciation to all who supported me in accepting this new challenge. I will do my best for my new team in America. This is my first time joining an international team. I am very excited about it. When I return to Japan, I’m certain that I will learn many new things and put my best foot forward for Fujitsu RedWave. I hope that all my supporters and fans will continue to support this important journey.
One question I have received in our mailbag, right away, is whether I think the Machida will make the opening day roster. After all, she is only signing a training camp contract for the rookie minimum, according to Richard Cohen of Her Hoop Stats:
Leagues sources confirm that Rui Machida's deal in Washington is one year, unprotected at her minimum ($60,471) and therefore a 'training camp contract'. Should have a good shot to make the team, given lack of other PG options behind Cloud on the roster. #WNBA #WNBAFreeAgency— Richard Cohen (@RichardCohen1) February 14, 2022
That said, I agree with Cohen that Machida’s chances of making the opening day roster are high. Consider the following:
- Besides Natasha Cloud, there is no true point guard on the team with WNBA experience — Leilani Mitchell is no longer on the team. And the only other point guard is Swedish rookie Klara Lundquist. I’m not familiar with Machida’s game outside of her out-of-this world performance in the Olympics, but I’ll put her ahead of Lundquist given Washington’s desire to compete for a deep postseason run right away.
- Washington is probably not drafting a point guard anyway — The top two prospects in the draft are generally considered to be Kentucky shooting guard Rhyne Howard and Baylor post NaLyssa Smith. The top point guard prospect is probably Destanni Henderson of South Carolina. She’ll probably be picked in the first round, but not in the lottery.
- Washington’s offense could get a big boost from Machida’s passing game — I could see reserves like Sydney Wiese and franchise player Elena Delle Donne have a field day from Machida now that I’m thinking about it. Of course, it’s important that Machida have an effective shot as well and her percentages weren’t the best in the Olympics. That will keep defenses guessing.
I of course want everyone to temper their expectations as well. Machida is not coming here to be the starting point guard, at least not right now. But again, I’m happy that one of the breakout stars from last year’s Olympics will be with this summer and I hope you are too.