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How Queen Egbo fits the Washington Mystics’ identity

The Washington Mystics traded for Queen Egbo on the 4th of July. How does her skillset fit in with the Mystics’ scheme and identity?

Indiana Fever v Washington Mystics
Queen Egbo (jersey #4)
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

June 25’s game against the New York Liberty was featured on ESPN and despite Washington building a 13-0 lead within the first few minutes of the game, they were unable to hold on. Late in the fourth quarter, Washington would miss some crucial free throws, which allowed Courtney Vandersloot to go the length of the floor and tie the game with an uncontested layup. Even after she fouled out in overtime, Washington couldn’t seem to figure out Sabrina Ionescu, who finished the game with 31 points and seven made threes.

In the loss to New York, Shakira Austin suffered what would be announced as a left hip strain. The team announced she would be reevaluated in three weeks, which is a devastating blow to a team that lacks frontcourt depth.

So while everyone was eating hot dogs and lighting fireworks on the 4th of July, general manager Mike Thibault decided to make some moves to address the issues of the team, trading Amanda Zahui B. to the Indiana Fever for Queen Egbo. The move certainly makes sense for Washington. They pick up a great defender and rebounder, which is crucial for a team that has struggled with rebounding, specifically on the offensive glass, for the majority of the season.

In a statement, M. Thibault said:

This trade was an opportunity to acquire a young post talent that can complement our other post players … In light of our injury situation, this trade becomes even more important. Queen is an elite rebounder, one of our biggest weaknesses, and she has been a good shot blocker and defender in her time at Indiana.

The move is big for Washington because it gives them a versatile and physical defender to take the bulk of the minutes in Austin’s absence. You can expect Egbo to play plenty of minutes even when Austin returns.

One underrated aspect of Egbo’s game that isn’t talked about a lot is her connective passing. Her vision, especially in situations where she has to make passes in traffic has been impressive. Washington’s guards being very good cutters should make this a great opportunity for Egbo to show off her passing abilities.

On this play, Egbo finds Kelsey Mitchell cutting backdoor after faking a dribble hand-off action on the wing. Egbo floats the pass over the arms of two defenders and Mitchell finishes the uncontested layup.

As M. Thibault mentioned, Egbo’s shot-blocking is a strength of hers, a major one. Her wingspan clearly bothers the shots of smaller guards and her awareness to be in position and in the correct rotations is what makes her impact on that end so potent.

Connecticut’s Natisha Hiedeman beats her defender off the dribble, but Egbo is right there to evaporate the floater and send Indiana in transition. The block is impressive no doubt, but watch how Egbo rotates seamlessly from guarding Tyasha Harris to Olivia Nelson-Ododa all in one possession. In just a split second, she switches defenders in the pick and roll and is still aware of where the ball is in order to block Hiedeman’s shot attempt.

Even when Egbo is off the ball, she is never out of a play. Against Atlanta, the Dream were able to see some success attacking NaLyssa Smith in the pick and roll. Egbo, defending Cheyenne Parker in the opposite corner, still rotated over in a split second to reject Naz Hillmon’s shot.

Of course the last area of Egbo’s game is the scoring. Washington, as mentioned in previous articles, is in desperate need of some scoring and shooting. This is truthfully the weakest part of Egbo’s game. She isn’t a very good scorer and does have a tendency to turn the ball over in the post due to bringing the ball down for guards to deflect it; however, she has shown some flashes in the low post and has the ability to space the floor as far as 20 feet out.

It’s impossible to accurately gauge Egbo and her impact by looking at the box score as she was playing limited minutes in Indiana due to their frontcourt depth, but her abilities on both ends fit perfectly with Washington’s identity and how they can play without Shakira Austin in the lineup. The flashes of low-post scoring and connective passing make her a valuable player in Washington’s offense surrounded by Delle Donne’s shot creation and Brittney Sykes’s rim pressure.

DC’s All-Star

Elena Delle Donne was named to the 2023 WNBA All-Star Game. This marks her seventh All-Star appearance and her first since the 2019 season. Delle Donne is now the third Mystics player to be selected to the All-Star game at least four times. Delle Donne is one of only two players this year to average at least 19 points and five rebounds while shooting at least 45 percent from the field and 37 percent from three. Delle Donne is averaging 19.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and one block.

The Mystics play the Indiana Fever Friday at 7 p.m. ET.