Thank you for your responses to this past week’s SB Nation Washington Mystics Reacts survey. Here are our results.
Mystics fan confidence remains neutral for now. But it’s trending negative in quite some time.
A combined 62 percent of our respondents said they feel neutral/content or confident in the Mystics’ direction. However, 43 percent gave 3’s, which is feeling neutral or content. Twenty-nine percent of the respondents gave a 4, indicating that they are not confident in the direction of the Mystics.
I would also give the Mystics a 4. Sure, they have numerous injuries at the moment, but the offseason strategy has been overly focused on getting veterans and defensive stalwarts, which put Washington in a vulnerable position if and when it’s time to rebuild. And even earlier this season, I wrote multiple pieces saying that while the Mystics were an elite defensive team (when healthy), offense was still a struggle.
Why are fans confident?
- “The Mystics just hit a little adversity that they need to figure out. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water.”
- “Injuries suck, but the team is solid. Not their year, but Washington is set up for next.”
Why are fans not confident?
- “I don’t think Eric Thibault is the right coach for the Mystics. GM Mike Thibault is past his prime and refuses to draft modern basketball wing players. The lack of bigger, athletic wings is killing the team.”
- “The Mystics are falling into nepotism, just like the Wizards.”
- “The Mystics haven’t maximized their draft pick luck. ShakiraAustin was of course a home run..but no other current assets…Williams was injured, haven’t heard anything else about her..the pick swap that landed them the 4th pick in this year’s draft was traded..should have been infusing younger talent. The Mystics chose familiarity over young talent. So far, all they have from trading out of the number one pick is Austin. Wasted opportunity.”
Fans don’t think it’s time to rebuild yet, but a significant proportion do.
Forty-eight percent of our respondents believe that the Mystics don’t have to rebuild yet. However, 33 percent believe it is time to rebuild and 19 percent are unsure.
My take? It’s time to rebuild anyway
If you want my opinion on what the Mystics should do, I say it’s time for the Mystics to rebuild. I don’t think a rebuild means trading everyone. For example, Shakira Austin is a player they must keep. And some veteran guards like Ariel Atkins in particular, should also be kept. However, most of the remaining players should be open for a trade or a more team-friendly contract going forward.
Since 2019, Washington has tried to replicate their championship success with as much of the same core as that 2019 team. Given how successful the Elena Delle Donne and Emma Meesseman frontcourt duo worked in the 2019 playoffs, it made sense to see if they could get one more year together.
Unfortunately, that never happened because Delle Donne suffered a back injury in the 2019 Finals that forced her to miss most of the next two seasons. And Meesseman only played one more year in Washington.
Losing Meesseman forced the Mystics to look for replacements, none of whom have panned out. In 2020, when Meesseman had a lackluster season, partly due to a nagging shoulder injury, Myisha Hines-Allen broke out and was an All-WNBA Second Team selection. At the time, I was optimistic that Hines-Allen would be the Meesseman replacement. Unfortunately, she never replicated that success since, in part due to injuries of her own.
In 2020, the Mystics signed Tina Charles, who was at the time expected to be an additional post to supplement the Meesseman and Delle Donne frontcourt. However, from hindsight, the coronavirus pandemic hit, and Charles decided to forego that season along with Delle Donne, who was recovering from a back injury in the 2019 Finals.
Charles played for Washington in 2021 and was the WNBA’s leading scorer. But Delle Donne played sparingly and Meesseman skipped that season to play for Belgium in the Olympics. And in 2022, Charles left for the Phoenix Mercury.
I can go on and on with more reasons why the Mystics should rebuild and more pieces will follow. But I think the perceived hope of replicating the “EDD and Emma Show” or signing potential Meesseman replacements who didn’t pan out is one of the major reasons why the Mystics are in the situation they are in four years after their championship season.
What would you do to right the Mystics’ ship? Let us know in the comments below.