Just two seasons after winning the WNBA Finals, the Washington Mystics missed the playoffs in 2021.
The Mystics (5-1) are off to a good start in their bid to right the ship. They’ll look to continue their good fortune on Sunday afternoon when they host the Chicago Sky in Washington, D.C.
The Mystics came from behind to record a 78-73 victory over the Atlanta Dream on Friday. Atlanta held a double-digit lead in the second half before Washington came storming back, all without leading scorer Elena Delle Donne.
Delle Donne, 32, is attempting to get back into the swing of things after missing almost two seasons with back surgeries and COVID-19 precautions. Her status for Sunday’s game is to be determined.
Delle Donne is the only player ever to win a WNBA MVP award for two different franchises (Chicago, Washington) in the league’s history.
Rookie Shakira Austin has made an instant impact with the Mystics, averaging 9.2 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. Austin was the third overall pick of the 2022 WNBA Draft out of Ole Miss.
“I just know that I’m built for it,” Austin said about her expanding role, per the Washington Post. “… I don’t think I need to wait.”
Just seven months removed from their first title, the Sky (2-2) are off to a mediocre start. Chicago is coming off of a 74-71 loss to the Seattle Storm on Wednesday.
The Sky have put together a very balanced effort so far this season. Chicago has five players averaging in double figures in scoring, led by veteran forward Candace Parker. The two-time MVP is averaging 13.5 points.
Kahleah Copper, the WNBA Finals MVP last year, is set to make her season debut after returning from overseas play. She averaged 14.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in the 2021 regular season.
“(Coming off the WNBA championship season), teams overseas were more physical,” Copper said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “They were definitely trying to make things tougher, but I embraced it.”