Mystics

Mystics re-sign 2019 WNBA Finals MVP Emma Meesseman for 2020

Mystics re-sign 2019 WNBA Finals MVP Emma Meesseman for 2020

Emma Meesseman will return to the Washington Mystics to help defend their 2019 WNBA Championship. 

On Monday, the team announced that the 2019 Finals MVP will return to the team on an undisclosed deal. The deal is reportedly for one year and a maximum amount of $215,000, according to High Post Hoops. The 26-year-old had just wrapped up her final season under contract with Washington last year. 

Washington is the only WNBA team Meesseman has ever known. She was drafted by the Mystics 19th overall in the 2013 draft. She quickly became one of the key figures of the team and essentially was the Mystics' future until they traded for Elena Delle Donne before the 2017 season.

She did, however, miss all of the 2018 season to play with the Belgian National team and took a personal break from the game before returning to the District last year. The team noted that she was the "missing piece" that was crucial to their 'Run it Back' season that culminated in a championship.

“D.C. is my home away from home, so I am so happy to be back with the team and organization,” Meesseman said in a release. “I look forward to playing in [the Entertainment and Sports Arena] again with the best fans! Let’s get another one!!!”

Meesseman was primarily a bench player during the 2019 championship run, although she had the talent of a starter. Off the bench, she would provide an instantaneous spark and give balance to the rotation of players. On the court, there was no other group of bench players in the WNBA that could guard the 6-4 forward.

With that advantage, she averaged 13.1 points while shooting 55% from the field and 42% from three last season. She became the first bench player to ever win the WNBA Finals MVP award by averaging 19.3 points at a 58% clip. 

“Emma re-signing is a huge step for our team. Having one of the top players in the world back for the upcoming season gives us a lot of options in how we play,” Mystics head coach and general manager Mike Thibault said. “It’s a great feeling for a coach to have a Finals MVP and a League MVP in Elena Delle Donne lining up opposite each other on the court. I can’t wait to get started again!”

With Meesseman and Delle Donne re-signing with the team, the Mystics two best players are back to begin their title defense. Both bring a similar skillset and can fit together on the court at the same time. Individually, they are two of the best players in the WNBA. Together, they are perhaps the best one-two combo in the league. 

Several other teams used the offseason to re-tool and collect pieces to be able to compete with the record-breaking offense that the Mystics employed last year. Instead, the Mystics used it to try and bring back as many figures from the championship as possible. 

Washington now has a full 12-player roster for the 2020 season.  

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WNBA postponing the start of 2020 season due to coronavirus pandemic

WNBA postponing the start of 2020 season due to coronavirus pandemic

The WNBA is pushing back the start of the regular season, which was scheduled to start on May 15, due to the coronavirus outbreak, the league announced on Friday. 

“As developments continue to emerge around the COVID-19 pandemic, including the extension of the social distancing guidelines in the United States through April 30, the WNBA will postpone the start of its training camps and tip of the regular season originally scheduled for May 15," WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a release. 

"While the league continues to use this time to conduct scenario-planning regarding new start dates and innovative formats, our guiding principle will continue to be the health and safety of the players, fans and employees."

Many training camps were set to begin on April 26. While there is no timeline on when the season will start, no games have been canceled at this time. 

The virtual WNBA draft will still transpire on April 17, as all players and teams will interact with the league and the commissioner remotely. 

“At the direction of the WNBA and in accordance with public health guidelines, the start of the 2020 Mystics season will be postponed to maintain the safety of our fans, players and staff,” general manager and head coach of the Mystics Mike Thibault said in a release by the team.

“We will get through this difficult time together and look forward to seeing our fans and defending our championship as soon as safely possible.  In the meantime, we will continue to find other ways to stay connected as we encourage everyone to stay home and be safe.”

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WNBA Draft will be a 'virtual draft,' still scheduled for April 17

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WNBA Draft will be a 'virtual draft,' still scheduled for April 17

Still monitoring the coronavirus pandemic, the WNBA has announced slight changes to its draft format for the 2020 season.

The league's draft will still be held as scheduled on April 17 at 7:00 pm ET, but be done in a virtual manner. There will be no players, guests or media in attendance. 

This format is similar to what the NFL is reportedly considering. The NFL's draft is still set for April 23-25.

New WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert will announce all 36 picks and the top prospects will be interviewed on the ESPN broadcast remotely. 

“Safeguarding the health and well-being of our prospects, players, employees, and everyone connected to our game as well as the general public is paramount. With that in mind, we will work diligently with our broadcast partner, ESPN, to create a memorable but virtual event that appropriately honors these accomplished athletes,” Engelbert said in a release. 

Additionally, the league will honor Alyssa Altobelli, Gianna Bryant and Payton Chester, who all died in a helicopter accident on Jan. 26. 

According to their release, the league is still evaluating the impact of the coronavirus on the WNBA. The start of training camp (April 26) and the season opener (May 15) are still on as scheduled at this time. 

The Washington Mystics currently have the 12th, 24th and 36th picks in the draft.

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