Delle Donne key to Mystics’ hot start
By Nicholas LeTourneau
The Mystics currently have the best record in the WNBA and it is in large part thanks to the play of Elena Delle Donne. The former MVP is a unique mix of size and skill that has always been tough to guard at any level.
Delle Donne is a lanky 6-foot-5, but has the skills of a perimeter player in addition to all of her post moves. Right now she accounts for almost 24 percent of Washington’s offensive production, according to Synergy Sports Technology. Delle Donne is currently averaging 20.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game, while shooting 43.4 percent from the floor and 30.8 percent from deep. A deeper look at the stats show just how important she has been for Washington.
She does most of her damage in the halfcourt where 80 percent of her offensive production comes from. In almost every Synergy category that has been measured so far in this young WNBA season, Delle Donne ranks good to very good compared to the rest of the league. Let’s take a look at some of her big performances from the season.
Her biggest games have come against the Fever, who have matched up against her twice so far. On Thursday, she scored a season-high 26 points while shooting 10-for-17 from the floor and 2 of 3 from deep. She also had 10 rebounds and 2 assists.
While she didn’t have as good a scoring game in the season opener against Indiana, she got a lot of others involved. She scored 13 points on 5 of 18 shooting from the floor and 1 of 5 from deep, pulled down 5 rebounds and dished out a career-high 7 assists.
Part of what makes Delle Donne so dangerous is how she can score effectively from all three levels. When you pair that with good vision and surround her with players that can be effective, it isn’t hard to wonder why the Mystics are firing on all cylinders.
Here we see just what has made Delle Donne so impactful. In the first clip, she cuts through the defense like a hot knife through butter, then finishes an acrobatic layup at the rim. Next, we see her do the same thing, but Indiana wisely collapses the defense on her. Unfortunately for Indiana, Delle Donne was able to kick it out to the perimeter for an easy three-pointer. After that we see an even better example of this. The rest of the offense clears out, allowing Delle Donne to go to work. She pulls a great move out of her bag of tricks to lose the first defender, then the help defense comes but Delle Donne is able to slide it to a teammate for a slick basket at the rim.
Later, we see more of what makes Delle Donne so dangerous. She gets the ball in the post, where she quickly turns around for a jumper that she places high off the glass. After that we get a look at some of her great vision and good play design. Krystal Thomas sets a screen on Kristi Toliver’s defender and calls for the pass to the corner. Delle Donne passes at the right moment, allowing Toliver to take an open shot within the three-point line. Finally, we see Delle Donne do some more iso scoring. She drives right into the teeth of the defense then shoots a runner off the glass that falls with ease.
This series of clips shows Delle Donne scoring at all three levels against the Aces in the second game of the season. We see a rare transition basket for Washington (the Mystics score on under 36 percent of their transition attempts) where Delle Donne hits a three-pointer before Las Vegas can set up their defense. Then we watch Delle Donne hit the super-talented rookie A’ja Wilson with a flawless stepback jumper just inside the three-point line. Finally, we watch Delle Donne get a rebound and take it coast to coast with ease. She is really quick in the open court and finishes a layup right in the face of an Aces player.