With UMMC Ekaterinburg, most WNBA fans in the United States will look at two players as the franchise’s superstars: Lynx forward Maya Moore and Mercury center Brittney Griner.
There are several other WNBA players on the team including the Mystics trio of forward Emma Meesseman, guard Kristi Toliver, and forward LaToya Sanders, but I get it. Moore and Griner are the WNBA’s unnamed “focus players.” And I can’t complain too much now because the Mystics now have Elena Delle Donne. But Delle Donne isn’t part of the Mystics trio on UMMC Ekaterinburg.
So, knowing this, I think Mike Thibault’s smiling from his office at Capital One Arena after watching the EuroLeague Women Final Four. It wasn’t Griner and Moore who took all the glory — even if Moore put on a show in the semifinals. It was Meesseman who averaged 19 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 4 assists to lead UMMC to their fourth EuroLeague Women championship and second title in three years. She won the MVP award, her first individual title for this league.
You can see Meesseman’s highlights in the video above.
In the two games here, Meesseman showed a combination of skills that few players her size possess. She has finesse touch around the basket and is one of the best off the ball posts in the world. In American basketball, we’ve historically thought that the best players will always hold the ball in their hands and shoot when they feel like it.
Though Meesseman can play that game herself, she seems to be at her best when she’s off the ball and ready to catch a pass from a guard.
There’s another situation where Meesseman is very deadly from the highlights. She’s a better than average dribbler for a post. This isn’t to say that she’s playing point guard anytime soon. But at least against other European teams, Meesseman can put the ball in the floor and use her athleticism to drive to the hoop. Against Sopron on Sunday, Meesseman made a couple baskets dribbling and driving to the basket with the defense unable or unwilling to stop her. In the Sopron game, Meesseman scored 15 of her 19 points in the first half.
In the 2017-18 season, Meesseman averaged 13.7 points on 57.8 percent shooting, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game in 18 EuroLeague Women contests. It is true that Meesseman didn’t lead in any statistical category for UMMC in EuroLeague Women. Griner led the team in scoring and just edged her in the rebound mark. Meanwhile, Kristi Toliver and Alba Torrens had more assists.
But Meesseman is a post who can do a bit of everything and has bee one of the most efficient WNBA players in the last few seasons. What’s even scarier is that Meesseman isn’t even 25 years old yet as of the date of this post. She’s only getting better over the next few years. I know she’ll miss this summer. But if Meesseman plays for the Mystics more often than not in the next few years, she could be a legitimate WNBA MVP candidate herself.