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Hoops Happening: Mystics strengthen routine with double aerials

Plus, a not-so-lucky seven for Diana Taurasi, WNBA All-Star Game three-point contest update, links and more. This is today in women’s basketball for Tuesday July 24, 2018!

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USA Select Team v United States
Aerial Powers (#10, blue) must be breathing a sigh of relief that she will no longer have to guard Elena Delle Donne (#11, white).
Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Washington Mystics acquired Aerial Powers yesterday in a deal that sent Tayler Hill to the Dallas Wings and relinquished a future pick.

Mystics Head Coach Mike Thibault said the move was designed to ease some overcrowding at the guard position (and give Hill the opportunity to flourish elsewhere). “We had an opportunity to add a bigger wing player in Aerial Powers, who is versatile enough to play positions two through four,” Thibault said.

As a super-swing player, Powers gives the Mystics matchup versatility. When she and the Mystics try to avenge their July 19 loss to the Wings on August 5, Powers could find herself battling against Skylar Diggins-Smith at the two, Kayla Thornton at the three or Glory Johnson at the four (in theory, based on Thibault’s statement, not necessarily in likelihood).

As for the other aerial on the team, Ariel Atkins is averaging 11.5 points per game (including a career-high 25 points on July 13), while Powers is averaging 6.2 points per game with a season-high 18 points on July 10. But these numbers are not indicative of Powers’ capabilities. She has seen her scoring decline this season following a reduction in minutes: 15 minutes per game this season versus 20 minutes per game in 2017 and 2016 (resulting in just over 10 points per game in those two prior years). With more minutes, Powers’ scoring should increase as well.

Meanwhile, Atkins’ scoring is balanced with contributions in other areas of the box score, upping her versatility quotient. Atkins also had a season-high 7 rebounds on July 13, a season-high 5 assists in three different games this season, 3 steals in back-to-back games on June 15 and 19 and enough blocks to keep it interesting. For her part, Powers had a season-high 8 rebounds on June 22 (and she also scored 16 points in that game), and she is no stranger to steals either.

Together, the double aerials may give the Mystics the power, depth and versatility they need to climb from the middle of the playoff pack to a higher slot in the standings.

Dallas, meanwhile, was keen on Hill because of her outside shooting. Wings Head Coach Fred Williams referred to Hill as “an exceptional perimeter player,” with “great outside skills, can shoot the three, penetrate the paint, and also be a good floor general. She is a great addition to our club that will give us balanced scoring inside and out.”

With Liz Cambage and Skylar Diggins-Smith doing most of the heavy lifting for Dallas all season — with Diggins-Smith battling in the paint against much bigger bodies and Cambage stepping behind the arc to drain threes — Hill’s arrival is likely to be met with a huge sigh of relief.

About last night in the league

Remember when, earlier in the season, Diana Taurasi became the first player in WNBA history to start a game 7-of-7 from deep?


And she also scored 27 points in that game?

Well, for whatever reason the number 7 is following her this season, the good fortunes have changed to bad. A reverse hex situation, if you will, resulting in a one-game suspension after Taurasi picked up technical foul number 7 for the season.

Taurasi will miss the Mercury’s home game against the Sky on July 25 to what will undoubtedly will be the great disappointment of fans in Phoenix.

Next up in the WNBA ...

Four games are on the schedule for Tuesday, including the flying Dream against the Sparks, which will be streaming live on Twitter!

Stay tuned for previews.

Where things stand

Here’s where things stands heading into tonight’s contests:

Drink up, link lush!

The league’s best sharpshooters are a-rarin’ to go with $10,000 on the line (and earmarked for donation to a charity of the winner’s choice). It’s the 2018 WNBA All-Star Game three-point contest, of course! And Allie Quigley is out to defend her title against All-Stars:

  • Jewell Loyd, Seattle Storm
  • Kayla McBride, Las Vegas Aces
  • Allie Quigley, Chicago Sky
  • Kristi Toliver, Washington Mystics

And two other sharpshooters:

  • Kelsey Mitchell, Indiana Fever
  • Renee Montgomery, Atlanta Dream


Fans of a Kayla McBride now have a new and exciting way to cheer her on!

In other news:

How to #WatchThemWork all season

Shine brighter. * flicker flicker *