If I were Washington Mystics General Manager and Head Coach Mike Thibault, here are a list of things I would do to improve the Mystics for the 2015 season BUT would also keep us in the running for the 2016 Top-2 draft picks (Jewell Loyd or BREANNA STEWART)!
1.) Trade Ivory Latta and the 8th pick to the Mercury for DeWanna Bonner and the 12th pick
Reason for the Mercury: Diana Taurasi had to play a lot at the starting PG spot last year. Adding a scoring PG would take some pressure off of her and also allow them to play Taylor at her more natural position at the 3 instead of the 2. It also keeps Erin Phillips on the bench as a high energy player. With Taurasi sitting out for the 2015 season, Latta could be a good replacement and keep the Merc in the playoff hunt.
Reason for the Mystics: They need a 3 and there aren’t any game changing/star caliber 3’s in the draft or available in free agency. By trading for Bonner this gives them a veteran 3 who is still near the top in the league and at 6’4" can match up against your Delle Donne’s, McCoughtry’s, Catchings, Moore’s and etc.
2.) Trade Kia Vaughn and Tayler Hill to the Lynx for Monica Wright
Reason for the Lynx: They have to be able to contend with the Sparks who will improve under new head coach Brian Agler (who will also be adding the 6’7" Jennifer Hamson who they drafted last year to the roster) Having the 6’2" McCarville and the 6’3" Rebekkah Brunson who both have also been in the league for 10 and 8 years as the only players capable of playing the 5 hurts them when they face Griner and The Sparks.
Reason for the Mystics: Bringing Monica Wright home (local kid from nearby Woodbridge, VA) would only make her hungry and an opportunity to start would be great for the team and she is still relatively young at 26. She’s also played on a championship team so her and Bonner together only helps the Core of "Hartley, Dolson, & Meeseman" this also sends Tayler home which might help her and if she bust it wont hurt Minny because I don’t think they are looking to bring back Wright due to her cap number
3.) Sign and Trade Monique Currie and Quanitra Hollingsworth's rights to the Tulsa Shock for their second round pick and Theresa Plaisance
Reason for the Shock: Tulsa is a young team who could be dangerous with the right piece. Insert Currie. She is a veteran that is unselfish. With Tulsa likely selecting Kelena Mosedaqa-Lewis with the second pick adding Currie allows them to bring KML along slowly off the bench as Currie starts.
Reason for Mystics: I understand that Currie is an unrestricted free agent but resigning and then shipping her for the 6’5" Theresa Plaisance provides Washington with size and a player who can play the 3-5. This will only be her second year in the league and she was very good at LSU throughout her collegiate career.
1.) 12th pick (from Latta to Mercury Trade)-Select Aleighsa Welch 6’0 SF from South Carolina
Reason: Low Risk high reward. She is the glue to #1 South Carolina’s team. She’s athletic and a team leader. She’s also a team player and would definitely improve our bench.
2.) 2nd Round Pick (from Tulsa via the Mo Currie Sign and Trade) - Select Nneka Enemkpali 6’1 SF/PF from Texas
This will be a high pick and potentially could yield us first round talent as it would be the 13th-15th pick in the draft.
Reason: Prior to tearing her ACL she was a first round pick for sure. Averaged 12pts, 10rebs & 1.8 blks this season (10pts and 8rebs for her career). This gives Mike the luxury of allowing her to sit for a year like he did when he drafted Danielle McCray when he was Coach/GM of the Sun. If she comes back healthy great. If she doesn’t it doesn’t hurt you in a weak draft year.
3.) 2nd Round Pick (Mystics current pick which is probably 19th-21st) - Select Kiah Stokes 6’3 C from UCONN
Reason: The Mystics need a rim protector and Stokes is by far one of the best to do it. She is also aware of Dolson and Hartley having played with them three out of her four collegiate years at UConn. She also backed up Dolson and I feel would have no problem doing so. Although not skilled offensively (but is it due to them not asking her to do anything else besides rebound and block shots) she gives us a player with huge upside and if not at UConn would probably start anywhere is in the country and be dominant.
My Hope: Make sure Kara Lawson returns
This is where I differ with Albert in regards to whether the Mystics should have a veteran presence in their rotation. I think Kara gives us a couple games on ESPN as well as a Veteran leader who understands Coach Thibault and what he is about. It doesn’t hurt that she can still be solid after seeing her play last season during the playoffs. She also can provide another year of teaching for Hartley to truly understand the PG position.
These moves would make us a solid team capable of making the playoffs. However, if the chemistry of this team doesn't work out -- which is certainly possible -- it still allows us to have a good chance at the Top-2 picks next year. We would have improved our lineup while not giving away future picks. Our lineup would be like this:
PG-Bria Hartley 5’8
SG-Monica Wright 5’10
SF-DeWanna Bonner 6’4
PF-Emma Meesseman 6’4
C-Stefanie Dolson 6’5
This starting unit adds much need size on the perimeter as you are replacing a better defender and taller guard in the 5’10 Monica Wright next to Hartley as opposed to the 5’6 (although she's more like 5’4) Ivory Latta who sometimes can shoot us out the game. Also adding the 6’4 Bonner who is always consistent and brings her A game night in and night out and getting rid of the Monique Currie who you never know who you’re going to get night in and night out makes us a better starting unit also getting rid of Vaughn opens up more minutes for Dolson.
PG-Kara Lawson 5’9
SG-Tierra Ruffin-Pratt 5’10
SF-Aleighsa Welch 6’0
PF-Tiana Hawkins 6’3
C-Kiah Stokes 6’3
This bench gives you endless possibilities as many of the players can play multiple positions Kara can play the 1 and 2, Pratt can play the 2-3 and 1 in a pinch, Welch can play the 2-3 and 4 in a pinch, Hawkins can play the 3-4 and some 5 in a pinch, and Stokes can play the 4 and 5.
The Last 2:
1.) Theresa Plaisance 6’5 she can play the 3-5 and gives you what you need should someone gets hurt and have to miss some time. Also a good shooter behind the Arc and is far more mobile that Emma. So if welch isn’t ready you could see a second unit with a 6’5 player next to two 6’3" players or she could be next to our 6’4 (Meesseman) PF and 6’5 (Dolson) C in the event that Dolson is in foul trouble.
2.) Find a quality PG/SG to play this spot - A Meighan Simmons (who was drafted by New York but didn’t make their final roster), or Ariel Massingale (another High Volume 3pt threat) who can help us stretch the floor from the outside who I don’t think will be drafted. someone who can give you 5 to 7 minutes if needed for a stretch of a game.