The Washington Mystics wrapped up their preseason schedule on Monday night. They recently waived Ally Malott, Ashley Morrissette, Mehryn Kraker and Caira Washington. They are at 12 players exactly, the amount that WNBA teams are come regular season. Below is the list of players that are on the regular season roster:
That being said, let's break down the roster and how players fit and the possible roles they might have. Obviously we're not in Coach Thibault's head, but why not take a stab at how things could fit.
Cloud. Natasha is entering the third year of her WNBA career, she's a pass first point guard with great size. Before Monday's preseason game she took a ton of corner three's which could be an indication that will be an area in which she's going to be expected to contribute. From a spacing stand point it makes sense, initiate the offense, get downhill if it's there in screen/roll situations, but once off ball she'll most likely be headed to the corner. With the type of scorers that will be on the floor with her, the corner three is the shortest three point look on the floor and in case of a hard close out she gets to attack down the baseline. Her size will allow her to fit in various lineups, defensively it'll (size) play a role as well.
EDD. Not to take anything away from her former team in Chicago, but Elena is now on a team that should make things easier on her. She's one of the best scorers in the league, joining one of the league's best offenses. She'll be able to pick her spots and enjoy space that may not have been afforded to her in the past. Delle Donne's size and length will play a role on the defensive end as well, especially on the glass. It'll be fun to see how Coach T uses her on the offensive end, on the US National team she caused a ton of trouble as a screener as defenses weren't presented with a good decision. Whether to stay with her or with the ball handler.
Hawkins. The former Terrapin always produces when she's on the court, I fully expect her to play a big role this season barring health. She's a great rebounder, screener, and can really put pressure on defenses with her ability to pop out of screen/rolls. Yet another versatile forward that can help fix Washington's achilles heel last year defensively, defending screen/roll action.
Hill. Tayler really showed everyone what kind of player she could be last season. She's a two-way player with an ever expanding offensive game, like every other guard on this team she should thrive with added space to operate. At times last season Coach T put her on opposing point guards to set the tone defensively, she also carried a share of the load offensively. Her ability to attack off the bounce last season gives Washington a player that can break down their defender late in the clock and another good outside shooter. The added weapons should allow Tayler to be more efficient on both ends of the floor this season.
Ivory. Health is everything for her, when she's herself, Washington has a shot creator and big shot maker. The added weapons this year should give her more space on the offensive end as well, defensively she's now the smallest guard on the team. When teams try to take advantage of that, here's going to be at least two bigger wings on the court to switch with her to avoid those situations. It's not just on the ball for Latta, she has more than enough handle to create space for herself, when she's off ball this year it gives Washington a knock down shooter to kick the ball out to. The veteran floor general will also provide calm to what is a pretty young roster. Whether she's starting or coming off the bench, a healthy Ivory Latta is a weapon for the Mystics.
Emma. The versatile big will miss the first portion of the regular season as she's with the Belgium National Team. Once she returns, Washington literally gets to play five-out at times. Every player on the floor will be a threat from beyond the arc, she also has enough skill and footwork to get a bucket down on the block. It'll be fun to see how that relationship with Delle Donne goes if they are the starting center and power forward. She, like Elena will be asked to do more on the glass with the lack of a traditional back-to-the-basket big on the roster. She led the league in three point percentage last year her game has grown every offseason, anxious to see what she's added this year.
TRP. The former Tar Heel is one of the best on-ball defenders in the league, however she's improved on the other end of the floor as well. She's a good two way player and has a great feel for what her team needs. Knowing when to stop the bleeding from opposing teams by attacking the basket to draw fouls to grabbing the board and pushing the floor and making the right decision. She now has more teammates with length on the wing that should only make things easier on her defensively. She like Cloud, was also working on that corner three. If that's a shot she can knock down consistently, it changes how teams defend Washington. Keeping them honest means everyone can eat.
Simms. One of two rookies to make the team, the 6'0 guard can help Washington on both ends of the floor. She showed that she could really fill it up on the offensive end in college, finishing in the top five in scoring at Old Dominion University. She has enough handle to create her own shot, enough size to post up smaller guards and the physicality to defend large guards and wings. Obviously she'll have to find her role on the team, but she can definitely help this team once she finds her groove on the team and in this league.
Asia. The third year forward gives Washington yet another versatile forward on the defensive end, she has no problem mixing it up on that end of the floor. She gives Washington some balance as her offensive game is not of the stretch variety. Can't ever have enough players that want to hit the glass, rebounding has been an emphasis for Washington a few years now. She gets an opportunity to make an impact in this league, especially on a roster where her strengths are needed.
Thomas. What Washington lost in size in their front court in Kia Vaughn and Stefanie Dolson, Krystal helps make up for some of that loss. She's a good post defender and isn't a big liability in defending screen/rolls. Entering her sixth season, Thomas will surely play a large role in Washington's front court. Especially with Meeseeman missing a portion of the start of the season. She hasn't played an average of more than 20 minutes a game outside of 2012 as a member of the Mercury. She played 26 minutes a night and pulled down 8 rebounds and averaged nearly a full block a game. Thomas should definitely average more than the nine minutes a game she played in Seattle last season, giving Washington a physical presence in their front court.
Toliver. Former Terrapin, WNBA Champion. The sharp shooting guard brings a championship pedigree to the Mystics, she was apart of the Sparks team that beat the Lynx in last year's WNBA finals. Kristi played 32 minutes a game last season for the reigning champs, knocking down 42% of the three point shots she took, averaging 13.2 points a game. With the depth on Washington, the veteran guard shouldn't have to log as many minutes and gives them an assassin from beyond the arc. No matter what's going on elsewhere on the court, Toliver shouldn't be left alone. She's a solid defender as well, there's obviously a theme here. She missed the preseason as she was still overseas, however, she did play on the same team as Meeseeman. As a veteran, it shouldn't take long for her to find her rhythm here in Washington.
SWK. The first round selection out of the University of Maryland fits what Washington wants out of their wings. At 5'11, she has the length to allow her to guard multiple positions on the defensive end. She finished her career at Maryland by besting Toliver's career three point percentage, finishing at 45.9% and finishing in the top 5 in scoring in school history (Toliver was 40.2%). At the very worst this season, she's a 3-and-D player. Can defend and hit the three, as she continues to work on her handle, it'll open things up for her and others. Like Simms, it's all about finding a role and her place on this team. If her marksman ship from deep can translate this year, Washington is going to be very rich in terms of spacing and shooters. The Mystics now have several two-way players on the wing, Shatori being one of them.