We are now about three months out from the 2015 WNBA season, and the Washington Mystics have announced that they re-signed center Kia Vaughn. Vaughn was a full-time starter for the Mystics in 2014, with the second-highest minutes per game among Mystics post players. She was second on the team in rebounds per game and fifth in usage percentage at 21.4% (ahead of Ivory Latta and Emma Meesseman), the second-highest usage percentage of her six-year career. Vaughn was also fourth in minutes per game.
Kia Vaughn is not a bad basketball player. Her field goal percentage last season was 46%, bad for a center but less bad when you realize that she's taking a lot of her shots from the midrange, providing a little floor spacing to a team that was very inconsistent from three. But her re-signing puts an exclamation mark on what the Ivory Latta and Armintie Herrington signings have already told us: the Mystics want to win now.
It's true that the Mystics will be without forward Tianna Hawkins for all or most of the season, leaving them thin in the post. But it also further entrenches the Mystics as a good but not great team. Vaughn is not a player who should be expected to be a major contributor on a championship team, but she's another decent veteran that keeps Washington as a realistic playoff contender. Vaughn likely came back to be a starter, and to play a big role on this team (much like Latta and Herrington), not to have a diminishing role as the youth movement surges forward -- or at least it should.
It's also true that there are plenty of minutes at center for both Vaughn and sophomore center Stefanie Dolson. But I think many of us would like to see a shifting of responsibilities from the veterans to the younger players on this team, preparing them for the future at the expense of winning now. However, every indication we've gotten so far is that the Mystics 2015 roster will look pretty much the same as the 2014 roster -- and the Mystics' 2015 season will probably look pretty much the same as the 2014 season:
Good enough for the playoffs, but nowhere close to being good enough for a championship.
Statistics provided by basketball-reference.com