Without going into too much detail, much of the groundwork on what direction the team will ultimately take is covered semi-pre-emptively in the September 2012 Manifesto. Though General Manager and Head Coach Mike Thibault has said that free agency is the most important part for his team building plan right now, another equally important question to answer is whether he should keep the Mystics' current core together.
Regardless of what direction the team takes with its core and its current draft position, my opinion on which players are good targets don't really change much at all.
Free Agents tend to sign on the teams they played in the previous season. Which Mystics players from 2012 are now free agents?
There were no Mystics who were cored/given the franchise tag nor classified as a reserved player. Those players could only negotiate with their previous teams. There were players in restricted free agency, unrestricted free agency, and the suspended list.
- Guard Shannon Bobbitt, and Forward Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton are 2012 Mystics players who are restricted free agents (they can shop for offer sheets with other teams but the Mystics have first dibs on them and can match the offer sheets).
- Swingman Iziane Castro Marques, Swingman Noelle Quinn, and Center Ashley Robinson are unrestricted free agents and can sign with any team, Mystics or anyone else.
- Center Latoya Pringle-Sanders was on the Suspended List for 2012 and can only get back to the WNBA by negotiating with the Mystics.
Here are my opinions on whether the Mystics should try to retain the services of the free agents. First the restricted free agents:
Why DC should match an offer for her - The Mystics don't have much guard talent, and most notably point guard talent. Bobbitt was the only player to have at least a 2 to 1 assist turnover ratio for the team (2.6 assists to 1.25 turnovers a game).
Why not - One problem with the Mystics last year was that the players they had were either able to score a bit but weren't good playmakers and were turnover prone. The players who were able to distribute a bit couldn't score efficiently. Bobbitt goes into the latter category. Put nicely, she can't score efficiently, and she couldn't make a third of her shots last year, and she couldn't make a quarter of her three point shots. And it's not just a bad year because she was under their previous coach's mentorship. In her whole career over four seasons, she only has a 31.6% field goal percentage and a 28.1% three point percentage. With the longer three point line in effect for this season, she will likely be a liability on a team that already wasn't a good three point shooting team to begin with from the old line.
Final Verdict - Let her go for an offer sheet with another team that needs an efficient pass first point guard off the bench. The team also needs to look for guards who would be an upgrade from her as well.
As some of you may know, Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton retired after the 2012 season to pursue a career in coaching so I won't bother elaborating on her too much. That said, she was actually one of the brighter spots for the Mystics where she tied Michelle Snow for the most blocks on the team, and was 10th in the WNBA with 24 blocks for the year and the Mystics probably should have considered signing her to a non-guaranteed deal of some kind if she chose not to retire.
Next let's head to the unrestricted free agents who were Mystics last season.
Iziane Castro Marques
Why DC should re-sign her - Izi can provide some perimeter shooting relief for the Mystics. If she's in a rhythm, we could see a strong run by her like in the 2010 and 2011 playoffs where she averaged nearly 17 points a game on at least 47% shooting overall and at least 40% from three for the Atlanta Dream, which won the Eastern Conference in both of those years.
Why DC should let her go - I honestly didn't think that the Mystics should have signed her in the first place and have her replace Natasha Lacy. In addition, Izi hasn't been a particularly efficient scorer in 2011's regular season where she only averaged 36% of her shots and while I want to give her a mulligan for 2012 because the season was lost by the time she was signed, she averaged 27% of her shots, and really, she should have been much better than that.
Final Verdict - Let her go somewhere else. The Mystics can use her spot to acquire a younger player to fill that role. And besides, Izi took away Natalie Novosel's minutes!
Why DC should re-sign her - Quinn was a brighter spot for the Mystics as well, even moreso than Wisdom-Hylton and was a reasonably effective contributor in multiple areas, at least statistically. Quinn led the team in three point field goal percentage at over 40% and was second on the team in overall threes. She also averaged 2.9 rebounds a game, and averaged 1.8 assists as compared with .97 turnovers.
Why DC should let her go - Like Bobbitt, though Quinn was effective as a distributor and was not turnover prone, she wasn't a player who put points up in a hurry. Though she was a very efficient three point shooter, she was 41-107 or made only 39% of her two point shots, and that's not efficient scoring. Also, Quinn will be 28 this year and basically be entering her prime as a basketball player. There may be another opportunity to get a younger player to play off the bench who is an efficient shooter from the perimeter, and can also be a secondary distributor.
Final Verdict - If I am Thibault, I would try to sign her to a deal. I know that I'm a guy who wants teams to be made up of mostly young players on teams that don't appear to be contenders in the shot term, but that goes primarily to the core. Quinn is a complementary player, and she fills one of Thibault's stated higher priority needs which includes shooters. Sure, she isn't the best scorer, but with the longer three point line, she would be a player that this team can use more than the other players I mentioned, not only to shoot threes but also take pressure off the point guard.
Why DC should re-sign her - Robinson was second on the team in blocks with 24 which was among the top 20 in the league.
Why DC should let her go -
As a center, A-Rob is an inefficient scorer, averaging only 38% of her shots over her entire career. While she averaged 41% of her shots in 2012 and that's higher than her career average, still, that's well below her career high of 48.4% of her made shots in 2011 when she played for the Seattle Storm. In addition to being a liability as a scorer in the low post, Robinson was not a good free throw shooter. At least she did better at the line than Jan Vesely
of the Washington Wizards
, but that's not saying much.
Final Verdict - Let her go. Nice lady off the court, and Storm fans certainly can attest to that better than I can, but she didn't really help the Mystics last season in terms of helping them win games.
LaToya Pringle-Sanders would have to sign with the Mystics because she was on the Suspended List for 2012, so it's cut and dry with her. Over her three years in the WNBA (2008-2009, 2011), she provided a rebounding presence, and made her shots at the free throw line.
In the second part
We will examine which free agents who didn't play on the Mystics last year who may be worth considering putting in Monumental Red this summer.