This trade helps shore up the point guard position as Thomas will be in the running to replace former starter Lindsey Harding who left the Dream for LA in free agency. Thomas is also a quick guard who could give the Dream additional scoring power from the perimeter.
In addition the 13th pick in the draft, which is deeper than usual may be able to help the Dream fill in some other needs such as perimeter shooting concerns with a player who otherwise would be a first rounder in most other drafts. It's also possible that Fred Williams didn't really covet any particular player in the middle of the 1st round as is and believes that Thomas would benefit from a change in scenery from DC where she was part of the team's worst two year stretch on the basketball court.
This is the first trade that Mike Thibault has made, and while it's significant, it's not a blockbuster to me at least. As constructed now, the Mystics now have the 7th pick in the Draft and this could allow them to pick up another first round worthy talent. One candidate I'm eyeing in particular is guard Kelly Faris of UConn who has improved her shooting efficiency and also has some potential to be a point guard as well for this team. In addition, Thibault has liked her play as well, but there are a number of other players who may fit well at #7. If the Mystics keep #4, their first pick, and #7, this would give the team two rookies who may be part of a long term core. If both develop very nicely in DC, this could make Mike Thibault the genius of the 2013 Draft if he covets two players in the "next best thing" group after the "Big Three" if that's what he's thinking.
Mystics fans who are wishing for a blockbuster trade may feel disappointed that the team didn't get a pick above #4. However, this is only the first move that Thibault has made that involved moving a player under contract, and with the #4 and #7 picks in his hands now, adding them as sweeteners to one of the Mystics' top players may yield them an asset that is blockbuster worthy and perhaps even helps protect any need to trade away the 1st round pick for 2014 if the team does get into a blockbuster deal.
In addition, Thomas' departure also means that this is the first move made to remove one of three "local" players from the 2012 roster because Thomas is from nearby Fairfax, VA. Crystal Langhorne and Monique Currie are the other local players on the team, but they are also two of the team's major contributors unlike Thomas who was more of a complementary piece. From a basketball only perspective, there is now less guard depth, and acquiring good guards is still a priority for the Mystics.
My Verdict on the trade
For Atlanta, my assumption is that Coach Williams didn't particularly covet any player in the 4-13 range where there hasn't been so much differentiation among the prospects. Getting the 13th pick still allows the Dream to select a player who would otherwise be a 1st rounder in most other drafts. Getting Thomas in some respects is like getting a 1st round draft pick because she's only entering her third season as a pro and is therefore a young player who could benefit greatly from playing around a more talented roster than she would if she stayed in Washington. I don't think this is a bad trade for the Dream, but I don't know if this is the best trade that the team could have made in order to try to replace Lindsey Harding.
For DC? This is a great trade. It gives the Mystics another potential rookie who could be part of the future core of the team along with the 4th pick should they all be in DC this summer. But at the same time, the 7th pick could also be a sweetener to a future deal, which leaves me guessing in a good way. The offseason is definitely looking brighter in the Mike Thibault era and no, Coach hasn't tipped his hand yet in regards to what direction this team is headed, besides up!