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2023 WNBA Draft: Could Mystics be deciding between Haley Jones and Jordan Horston at No. 4?

The Washington Mystics are going to have backups at shooting guard, center and power forward, assuming they hold on to Amanda Zahui B. and Tianna Hawkins. That leaves backup small forward and point guard as needs to consider when they select at fourth overall.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Tennessee at Stanford
Haley Jones (with ball) and Jordan Horston (defending) can both run an offense and have the size to play small forward as well.
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Here is the pool of players the Washington Mystics will be considering for their 2023 roster:

  • Elena Delle Donne, starting PF ($234,350)
  • Brittney Sykes, second SG ($190,000)
  • Natasha Cloud, starting PG ($190,000)
  • Myisha Hines-Allen, starting SF ($175,100)
  • Ariel Atkins, starting SG ($175,000)
  • Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, third SG ($95,000)
  • Shakira Austin, starting C ($73,584)
  • Amanda Zahui B., second C ($74,305)
  • No. 4 pick ($74,305)
  • Tianna Hawkins, second PF ($74,305)
  • Jazmine Jones, fourth SG ($62,285)
  • No. 20 pick ($65,290)
  • Evina Westbrook, second PG ($62,285)
  • No. 32 pick ($62,285)

It appears the Mystics’ biggest needs at No. 4 are backup small forward and backup point guard. ESPN has them taking center Stephanie Soares (Iowa State), Winsidr has them taking shooting guard Taylor Mikesell (Ohio State) and Just Women’s Sports has them taking Haley Jones (Stanford), who I consider to be a small forward, though she is listed as a guard.

Both ESPN and Winsidr have H. Jones available at No. 4. I think that would be a good pick for the Mystics. H. Jones was previously projected as high as No. 2, but Diamond Miller (Maryland) has become an almost-unanimous No. 2 among mock drafts while H. Jones was hurt by Stanford’s poor performance in the NCAA Tournament.

Just think of all the aspects of H. Jones’ game that made her that projected No. 2 pick. She can act as a point-forward and orchestrate an offense. She can also get to the rim with ease either driving or backing down. And her ability to pass to back-door cutters in Stanford’s offense was phenomenal. I also think that she is capable of developing a good 3-point game, though she shot just 21.7 percent for her college career with just 23 makes (and a career-worst 9.4 percent as a senior).

A previous ESPN mock draft had Washington taking power forward Maddy Siegrist (Villanova) at No. 4. Siegrist led the nation with 29.2 points per game this season. I’m not sure she would be a perfect fit at the small forward position in the pros though, because she truly is more of a power forward and doesn’t have good enough ball-handling skills to be elite as a creator on the perimeter, though she can certainly knock down threes. If the Mystics aren’t being strict about taking a small forward or point guard, they could bring in Siegrist to play the 4, though she will be undersized at that position in the pros since she is 6-foot-1.

Perhaps selecting a point guard at No. 4 would be wiser than selecting a forward. We know from Courtney Vandersloot’s time in Chicago that no matter how good your starting point guard is, having a really good backup is still important. Point guard may be the most important backup position in basketball. So who will the Mystics have backing up their amazing starter, Natasha Cloud?

Evina Westbrook could probably handle point guard duties if the Mystics want to roster her over Jazmine Jones. But maybe Washington can get someone better at No. 4. Jordan Horston (Tennessee) would be perfect because she can play point guard and small forward. She is 6-foot-2 and averaged four assists per game during her college career. She also averaged career-bests of 16.2 points and 9.4 rebounds in 2021-22. Just Women’s Sports and Winsidr have Horston available at No. 4, though ESPN has her being taken at No. 3.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch
Jordan Horston
Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Grace Berger is a point guard available at No. 4 in all three mock drafts and her composure and mid-range shooting ability could make her a good player at the next level. She’s not going to blow you away with flashy play, but she is the kind of player any organization would want representing it, and the Mystics are a franchise that takes character into consideration. Berger averaged a career-best 5.8 assists in 2022-23.

A third option at point guard is Charisma Osborne (UCLA), who is also available at No. 4 in all three mock drafts. She is, however, not even included in the first round in two of them. Osborne, like Berger, is a great leader and is going to be a little more flashy and acrobatic finishing at the rim. She is also the most prolific 3-point shooter of the three point guards mentioned here, with a slightly better percentage (32.3) than Berger and Horston. A 32.3 percentage isn’t phenomenal, but she made 225 threes in her career, which is a good amount.

Assuming Washington rosters the No. 4 pick, they’d have to cut WNBA champion Tianna Hawkins in order to afford to keep the No. 20 pick. Hawkins’ numbers have been down the last couple of years in WNBA, but she won Athletes Unlimited in 2022, averaged 9.5 points on 36.3 percent shooting from distance in 2019 and is still not quite past her prime at age 32. I see the Mystics keeping her, which means no No. 20 pick. I’m also guessing they’ll keep J. Jones over the No. 32 pick. J. Jones was the No. 12 pick in 2020 and has the experience of averaging 10.8 points per game as a rookie.