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The Mystics’ offensive woes are continuing in 2023, especially at guard

Washington needs to boost their offense soon if they want to remain among the league’s best this season.

Washington Mystics v Chicago Sky
Ariel Atkins and the Washington Mystics’ guards are not playing very well offensively to start this season.
Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The Washington Mystics are 2-2 to start the 2023 WNBA season. They started the year with a blowout win over the New York Liberty and beat the Chicago Sky last Friday in a close match against Elena Delle Donne’s first team. Washington also lost two consecutive games against the Connecticut Sun between their victories.

So far, there are some things I like. It’s early, but the Mystics haven’t been blown out in any game. They have the fourth best defensive rating at 93 points per 100 possessions. I get that it’s not first, but again, we are just four games into the 2023 WNBA season.

That said, Washington has the ninth best, or fourth worst offensive rating in the league at 93.5 points per 100 possessions. For a team that the experts predict will be a WNBA semifinalist, but ultimately lose to the Las Vegas Aces or Liberty (okay, a DARK HORSE CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDER!), that’s not a good thing.

First, the Mystics entered the 2022-23 offseason looking to upgrade their offense. Sure, Kristi Toliver is back as a sixth woman and can score points in a flurry. But Brittney Sykes, Washington’s biggest addition is only averaging 8.8 points on 29 percent shooting. And Toliver is also only averaging 4.5 points per game this season. But I’m more worried about Sykes.

Last season, Sykes averaged 12.7 points per game and shot 43 percent from the field for the Los Angeles Sparks. Sure, four games is a small sample size. But WNBA regular seasons (now 40 games) are only about half of NBA regular seasons. So four games is a cause for concern that I wouldn’t be so worried about if the Mystics played 82 regular season games.

I’m also worried about Ariel Atkins. She has been a consistent scorer for her entire career and she has become a primary offensive option in the last couple years. But so far, she is averaging 8.8 points per game on 30.6 percent shooting. These would be career lows if these averages hold. I’m confident that Atkins will turn things around soon. But again, it’s worrisome.

The biggest thing I’m worried about with the Mystics’ offense is that guard production is poor. No guard is averaging double digits so far. And no guard is making at least 40 percent of her shots.

Thankfully, the posts are doing better. Shakira Austin is the team’s second leading scorer at 14 points per game while Elena Delle Donne is averaging 21 points per game on 54 percent shooting. Without EDD playing in vintage mode so far, Washington could be starting this season winless.

Do you think the Mystics can turn their guard production around soon? This season’s performance will heavily depend on it.