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WNBA.com says the Mystics should aim for the Eastern Conference Finals in 2015

The bigger question should be whether the Mystics want to be a perennial championship contender.

Photo courtesy of Stewart W. Small

The WNBA is having a #12DaysofWNBA campaign to close out the year and is focusing on the Mystics on Christmas Eve. You can check out the post by clicking here.

According to the league, they gave a New Year's Resolution strategy. Here's the entire quote:

Sights on the Second Round: Washington is a franchise on the upswing, with a veteran group infused with bright young talent. The Mystics shook things up before the 2014 season even began, trading All-Star Crystal Langhorne to Seattle and thus reuniting the UConn rookie duo of Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley, who were fittingly selected with back-to-back picks in the first round of April's draft. But despite another solid year from sweet-shooting Ivory Latta and a breakout from second-year Belgian center Emma Meesseman, they came up short in the playoffs once again. The goal in 2015 is simple: Win a playoff series for the first time in 13 years.

That is an optimistic way to look at things if you believe the Mystics should win as many games as possible, and presumably stick with their current group. Believe me, I would love to see the Mystics make the Eastern Conference Finals in 2015, especially if they have an even semi-realistic chance of winning a WNBA title.

But perhaps the league didn't take this into account. This team is at best, arguably the least talented team in the league, especially at the top. It's nice to see that their young players -- who we do not hesitate to shower with praise -- are doing well. But at the same time, I don't see them turning into superstars, unless there is a superstar pick for them to play around. Yes, the Mystics have Mike Thibault who is the best head coach in the W by at least a mile. But even the best head coach needs an elite talent himself if he wants to win a championship.

As we have stated numerous times, in the WNBA, a team must get a top draft pick as a rookie in order to get elite talent. Given CBA rules which inhibit superstar free agency movement, this is the only effective way to do this.

Sometimes, this means that a team can't go for wins when it's obvious that they don't have the talent to realistically do it. The worst place to be in American professional basketball is being perennially mediocre and without a standout star. That's exactly what the Mystics were these last two seasons when you look at their record and the talent they have compared with other teams.

The Mystics are on the cusp of one of either two outcomes in their current rebuild. The first outcome is that they will get a franchise superstar within the next couple seasons, and Mike Thibault will win a WNBA championship that has eluded him since 2003. I personally want to see this outcome, even though that will likely mean putting a future playoff appearance or possibly more on the backburner.

The other outcome is that the Mystics remain mediocre. Perhaps we could see them make the playoffs for each of the next couple seasons but make no real progress toward being a top team. Sooner, rather than later, the Mystics would have to blow up the whole team again to rebuild this rebuild, not terribly unlike what we are seeing with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA. If they reach that point, you can only imagine just how apoplectic I'd be.

Therefore, I disagree with this resolution which should be this: continue building with the young players and get in position to draft an elite talent. To be fair to WNBA.com, they have given pretty optimistic viewpoints for each team from solely a win-loss perspective, so I don't expect to see that they will say that a team should just tank for next year. At the same time, it's not a crime for them to acknowledge that this team is building for the future.

End of short rant.

I don't want this to be simply a "woe is me" post, because I also see that WNBA.com is doing something right.

The league appears to be catching on with the #BriaRising movement which Mystics and UConn women's basketball fans have caught onto in past seasons. Check out Bria Hartley's game tying layup against the New York Liberty on July 29, 2014 as the team's Vine-light of the year:

See? In case you didn't know, Hartley does more than just break defenders' ankles. She makes clutch plays!

If I was going to give a very close second place, it's this crossover by Ivory Latta where she embarrasses Briann January and drains a shot. This happened in Game 1 of the Mystics' playoff series against the Fever too!

latta crossover 2

Ahh, the beauty of the crossover.