In last Wednesday night’s WNBA Draft, the Washington Mystics added more depth to an already-solid roster that led them to last season’s Finals for the first time in franchise history.
This season, the Mystics’ core featuring Elena Delle Donne (who hurt her knee in the semifinals last postseason), Kristi Toliver, LaToya Sanders and Natasha Cloud will all return.
To add to that, the Mystics selected Kiara Leslie (10th overall) and Sam Fuehring (34th overall) in the draft. The Mystics already have depth in the backcourt and frontcourt areas, but both players can fill important needs in the future due to the team’s need for more bench scoring and the fact that key players are starting to get older.
In addition to a solid draft, the Mystics will also receive further frontcourt depth as Emma Meesseman returns to the team. Last season, Meesseman took a year off from the WNBA in order to prepare and play in the FIBA World Cup with her national team in Belgium.
Here’s how the Mystics newest players can contribute to the team:
Increased backcourt depth
The selection of Leslie adds depth to a backcourt that is continuing to grow each year. Obviously, Toliver’s game is top-tier and she is a well-regarded veteran on the team and around the league.
However, Cloud and Ariel Atkins’ offensive responsibilities will continue to increase after last seasons’ Finals run. Each year, Cloud continues to elevate her game and improve on both sides of the ball. Atkins was thrown into a tough situation as a rookie, forced to play multiple positions outside her comfort zone. Nonetheless, she handled herself well and provided a huge spark for the Mystics.
Leslie will help this team on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. The North Carolina State product can guard multiple positions. She finished her senior season at NC State with 26 blocks and 38 steals.
The 6-foot guard also adds size and strength to the Mystics. Last season, Leslie averaged 15.9 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game while shooting 38.1 percent from three. In addition to her solid stat line, Leslie had nine 20-point games this season.
Leslie will help Washington in the immediate and long-term future. She can easily be paired with Atkins or Cloud in the backcourt and she will be able to contribute right away while developing as a role player.
Unique frontcourt build
Assuming she makes the team, Fuehring will benefit the Mystics in the long run. Fuehring will help this team with depth, shooting and pace.
While playing at Louisville, the 6-foot-3 forward was a jack of all trades and helped her team in almost every fashion. Fuehring can impact the game with her rebounding by giving her team extra point opportunities or by launching an outlet pass to start the fast break.
Fuehring finished her senior season averaging 10.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. In addition to almost averaging a double-double, she shot 37.5 percent from beyond the arc, which provides the Mystics with another shooter.
The Louisville product is ready to contribute now and she will learn a lot from Delle Donne, Meesseman and Sanders. She will also be able to provide the Mystics with bench depth and versatility because of her ability to play positions three through five if needed.
Welcome back, Emma Meesseman
Meesseman is not a rookie, but her return is a huge plus for the Mystics and it clearly factored into the organization’s strategy in the draft.
Washington missed the size, rebounding and scoring from their five-year forward. Meesseman improves every year in her overall game and is a force on the glass, can score in a variety of ways and is a wizard in the fast break.
Meesseman can space the floor, finish around the rim with her soft touch and find the open shooter. In 2017 she averaged 14.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.
Both Fuehring and Leslie will be able to play high-low with Meesseman, which will provide the Mystics with another layer of offense.
Both rookies can become solid players in the WNBA and help the Mystics this season. Expect to see Washington make another Finals push.