On Sunday, fans were anxiously awaiting news on star players Elena Delle Donne and Tayler Hill who were injured in a game against the Indiana Fever on Friday. Word finally broke just after mid-day that Delle Donne would be out for Sunday’s game against the New York Liberty with an ankle sprain and Hill would be out for the remainder of the season with a torn acl.
Whether you are a Mystics fan or not, you felt the gut-wrenching sensation of yet another player out for the season. You were also probably wondering how in the world the Mystics could be competitive without former MVP Delle Donne. Well, it didn’t go so well.
The Mystics were defeated by the Liberty 85-55 in a demoralizing loss that saw only one Mystics player in double figures. The Liberty outscored their shorthanded opponent 30-14 in the first quarter and 30-23 the last two quarters in the victory. All active players scored for New York and four of them were in double figures by the end of the game.
This leads to the question of the lack of depth in Washington. I did a season preview for the Mystics this year and one of my biggest findings was in the lack of bench Washington possessed. We knew Kristi Toliver and Delle Donne were great additions to their core in Emma Meesseman, Krystal Thomas, and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, but beyond that, Hill was pretty much the only spark left. Yes, Ivory Latta is an energetic player, but she is streaky and inconsistent at times. Same goes for Natasha Cloud. I also wasn’t sure how Shatori Walker-Kimbro would fair being that Coach Mike Thibault usually develops his rookies and they have to earn his trust before they see any playing time.
Delle Donne’s injury doesn’t appear to be season ending, but you have to question how far the Mystics can actually go in the playoffs this year without Hill. She was averaging a solid 13.3 points in 25.6 minutes per game. That’s a huge loss from your bench when you don’t have anyone else near those minutes or average points left on the sidelines.
The Mystics might have hit a winning line when Delle Donne ended up in their laps this offseason, but it looks like if they want to hit the jackpot, they are going to have to do more than just have a good starting five.