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Firepower: Washington’s new look has tons of bullets

Elena Delle Donne will likely be a big help for the Mystics offensively, but she won’t be the only one opponents will have to deal with.

Ron Hoskins/Getty

Last season, the Washington Mystics missed the playoffs after finishing 10th in the league with a 13-21 record.

Last season, the Washington Mystics did not have Elena Delle Donne or Kristi Toliver.

The Chicago Sky, for whom Delle Donne had played for all four seasons of her professional career, traded the 2015 MVP to the Mystics in February, shaking up Washington’s potential immeasurably.

Delle Donne has the ability to put up big numbers — she once scored 45 points in a 2015 game against Atlanta — and her experience with the USA Women’s National Team has pitted her against the best players in the world.

While it would be foolish to overlook Delle Donne’s talent, perhaps the scariest part for opponents about her presence on Washington’s roster is that she won’t necessarily need to lead this team.

Toliver, who spent the past seven seasons with Los Angeles and won the title with the Sparks in 2016, signed with Washington as a free agent in February, five days after Delle Donne joined.

Her veteran status, alongside that of 11-year guard Ivory Latta, will likely be an important factor for the Mystics offensively. Toliver and Latta averaged 13.2 and 8.3 points, respectively, last season, and both know their way around the game.

What’s worse for opponents is that even if they are able to manage Delle Donne, Toliver and Latta, they still may not be out of the woods — at least not if Emma Meesseman has anything to say about it.

Meesseman, a 6-foot-4-inch center, led Washington with 5.6 rebounds per game during the 2016 season to go along with 15.2 points per game. She also started all 34 games for the Mystics, proving herself to be a reliable threat.

The depth of Washington’s new-look roster is undoubtable; if Delle Donne, Toliver, Latta and Meesseman can learn to gel on the offensive end, the Mystics could be a tough team to beat in the Eastern Conference and have a shot at not only making the playoffs, but going deep into them.