Imagine for a second, back to the most recent off-season in the NBA, but this time Kevin Durant doesn’t leave Oklahoma City through free agency. Instead, he’s shipped out through a sign-and-trade deal to a team you never imagined was in the conversation. This is how I felt when the news hit about Elena Delle Donne being traded to the Washington Mystics.
The former WNBA MVP voiced her desires to get out of Chicago not too long ago. So, the Chicago Sky were faced with a tough decision. They either had to appease to Delle Donne and trade their best player away, or try to keep a disgruntled superstar while trying to compete for a title. Instead of the latter, the Sky cashed in on a trade with the Washington Mystics. They flipped the former MVP into some great young assets and a high draft pick to go with it.
The Mystics shipped off their All-Star Center, Stefanie Dolson, Kahleah Copper, and the second overall pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft. The number two pick could very well turn out to be standout guard, Kelsey Plum, from the University of Washington, or Shatori Walker-Kimbrough from the University of Maryland. Either way, this gives the Sky options especially since their need for a center will be filled by Stefanie Dolson.
Dolson, Copper, and the future draft pick are going to be joining a quality team even though Delle Donne won’t be there anymore. Offensive star Cappie Pondexter and Courtney Vandersloot were able to lead Chicago to a few playoff wins last season with Delle Donne sitting out due to health issues. One major issue for Chicago will be the fact that someone has to account for the 21.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game that Delle Donne put up. Dolson and Copper account for about 15 points per game, so that means the draft pick is going to need to be some kind of scorer.
On the flip side, the Mystics already have two players averaging 15 points per game. Now, with the high octane offense that Mike Thibault likes to run, an addition like Elena Delle Donne can mean big time fireworks on the offensive end. Emma Meesseman and Tayler Hill are already hovering around 40% from three, and adding Delle Donne who is a 38.1% career three-point shooter means this team could turn into the Golden State Warriors of the WNBA. As a team, the Mystics averaged just two less points and three less rebounds per game. Delle Donne can easily make up for that gap.
What does this mean for the rest of the WNBA? Well, there’s another dangerous competitor in town that could take down the likes of Maya Moore and the Minnesota Lynx, and the Los Angeles Sparks.