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With Las Vegas summer league over, where key players stand with Wizards

With Las Vegas summer league over, where key players stand with Wizards

This isn’t the ending that Kelly Oubre was hoping for as he set his sights on winning the Las Vegas summer league tournament. It ended in the quarterfinals with an 88-85 loss to the Chicago Bulls and a 3-2 record for the Wizards, who performed much better than they had in his rookie season.

Summer league, however, isn’t about wins or statistics. The Sacramento Kings won it all here a few years ago. Exactly what did that translate into when the games actually counted? Nothing. So it’s important to not get caught up in that minutiae.

Most of the players who competed in Las Vegas won’t be on NBA rosters for the 2016-17 season. Most will land in the D-League or overseas. A lot of those who do make it, not counting the high first-round picks who'll get their chances quicker because of their draft status if nothing else, will be buried at the end of benches hoping for a chance to prove themselves.


The Wizards have 2-3 roster spots in play going into training camp which will begin in late September. From now until then, there will be a lot of down time – and likely another move by the front office – to get everything in order.

Kelly Oubre: The ending wasn’t as good as the first four games, but Oubre played hard throughout. Even when his shot wasn’t falling he did all of the other small things to keep the Wizards alive. There were times in the early going when Oubre was off the floor that there was no offensive flow. But he was the linchpin on both ends of the court. Oubre got away from attacking the rim vs the Bulls and settled for a lot of long jumpers but overall he's likely solidified himself as a rotation player under new coach Scott Brooks. 

Aaron White: The forward was hit or miss, especially on the offensive end, and wasn’t always able to hit the three-point shot – his primary objective as stretch four. It’s not clear if he’ll even attend camp at this point, but he appears to be a long shot to beat out the competition. If he's on the floor with better players, he's expected to play better as he's a classic role player.

Jarell Eddie: Though he agreed to push the guarantee date on his contract to the start of the regular season, the 6-7 shooter is a lock to make the roster. He did this as a favor to the organization to give them more salary cap flexibility to make other moves but he’ll get his $980,000. Guaranteed.

Micheal Eric: After starting the first three games, he took a lesser role to give Kaleb Tarczewski more burn. Eric was the Wizards’ best big on both ends as he was a rim protector and good finisher. He doesn’t need the ball to be effective. The Wizards have offered him an invite for training camp but he hasn’t accepted. He’s mulling his options.

Nate Wolters: He missed the first game because he wasn’t with the Wizards in mini-camp and another game because of a sore ankle. Wolters started the last two games and showed extremely well. He created for others by keeping his dribble alive, getting to the rim and even finishing through contact. The Wizards, however, have three point guards under contract entering camp and it’s “unlikely,” CSNmidatlantic.com was told Saturday, that he’d attend camp. It would make better sense for Wolters to go where he can find a roster spot.

Danuel House: The 6-7 guard/forward played his way into a training camp invite and earned a small guarantee in the process. Even when House’s three-point shot isn’t falling, he can put the ball on the floor, drive to the basket and finish. He gets to the foul line. He runs the break. His passing needs improvement but he has an NBA body and the skill set that suggests he’s ready. Very good chance he makes the cut.

Daniel Ochefu: The undrafted center received $75,000 to attend training camp but there’s no guarantee he has a roster spot. Though he’s younger than Eric and in theory has a higher ceiling, he’s not better than him now. Ochefu is raw and limited offensively though defense is the strength of his game. Given where the Wizards stand with bigs under contract, it’s difficult to see how he makes the regular season roster. He played sparingly compared to his counterparts.

Sheldon McClellan: Despite his guaranteed money to attend training camp, exactly where he stands isn’t clear. The Wizards are high on him even though he had marginal impact during summer league. He played well with House on the second unit. McClellan’s shooting touch is still a question but he has the tools to make him a possibility though House appears to have nudged ahead of him.

Shawn Dawson: The 6-6 guard played 10-15 minutes off the bench, and briefly showed promise. Dawson has been offered a spot in training camp but hasn’t accepted it yet. He’s determined to make the cut even if it means sitting on the bench. He makes his living driving to the basket. His jump shot and the range on it never was on display. The assumption is he’s not there yet and he needs more seasoning.


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WNBA Semifinals: Aces at Mystics - Game 1: Date, time, TV channel, live stream how to watch

WNBA Semifinals: Aces at Mystics - Game 1: Date, time, TV channel, live stream how to watch

The Washington Mystics and Elena Delle Donne finally get to play in the WNBA Playoffs after a week off due to a double-bye from winning the No. 1 seed. 

The Mystics will play the No. 4 seeded Las Vegas Aces on Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 8:30 p.m. ET. It begins a best-of-five series between two of the best teams in the WNBA this season. 

Midway through the year, the Aces were arguably the best team in the league. They were trading turns with the Mystics and the Connecticut Sun sitting atop the WNBA Standings. Led by MVP candidate Liz Cambage, one of the most dominating centers in the league, the Aces were squarely in the running for one of the top seeds and a double-bye.

Then they went cold, finished the season 2-4 and witnessed the Mystics and Sun continued success.

The Aces, honestly, should probably not be here after the incredible end-of-game sequence from the previous round. Dearica Hamby's steal and desperation shot are the only things that have the Aces here and not the Chicago Sky.

Much of the dominance from Cambage and A'ja Wilson has dissipated over the past several weeks. Still, they bring in one of the strongest defensive units in the league to try and slow down the most potent's in WNBA history. In the regular season, the Aces held opponents to a WNBA-best 43.5% from the field and the second-best from 3-point range (32.1%). 

Washington won the regular-season series against Las Vegas 2-1. Yet in the process, one game was postponed at halftime by an earthquake and another game delayed because of clock failures. The only game the Aces won was the one that Delle Donne missed. 

Washington finished the regular season with a franchise-best 26 wins. They set the WNBA record for made 3-pointers on the season (9.3 per game) and in a game (18), and fewest turnovers (11.3 per game) among a few.

While the Mystics have a much-needed eight days off before they play the Aces, one also has to be concerned if it was too much time off. They will have more time to recover in a series as opposed to the winner-take-all first and second rounds. However, there is not much wiggle room in a five-game series predicated on homefield advantage.


Who: Las Vegas Aces at Washington Mystics

What: WNBA Semifinals Game 1

When: Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, 8:30 p.m. ET

Where: Entertainment and Sports Arena, Washington D.C.

TV Channel: ESPN2

Live Stream: WatchESPN


Game 1: Tue, Sept. 17: Aces at Mystics, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Game 2: Thurs, Sept. 19: Aces at Mystics, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Game 3: Sun, Sept. 22: Mystics at Aces, 5:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Game 4: Tue, Sept 24: Mystics at Aces, Time TBD, ESPN2 (if necessary)

Game 5: Thurs, Sept. 26: Aces at Mystics, Time TBD, ESPN2 (if necessary)


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Just joining the Mystics' bandwagon in time for the semi-finals? Here's what you need to know

Just joining the Mystics' bandwagon in time for the semi-finals? Here's what you need to know

The Washington Mystics are set to kick off their playoff run on Tuesday night at 8:30 pm against the Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA Semifinals. You may have followed the entire journey to this point, or you may just joining in on the fun, hoping to hitch a ride on the bandwagon of a great team.

If you are in that second group, you're in luck. Here is what you need to know about the 2019 Mystics as they gear up for the postseason...

They are historically good: The 26-8 Mystics weren't just the best team in the league this season by their record, they were dominant to a degree rarely seen in the WNBA. Washington scored the most points per game (89.3), had the most assists (21.9), the fewest turnovers (11.8) and the highest field goal percentage (46.9). 

The Mystics had the best offensive rating (112.9) with an 11.3-point edge over the second-best team, the Chicago Sky. With the sixth-best defensive rating, the Mystics' 14.8 net rating was 10.7 points better than the next-best team, the Las Vegas Aces. 

Washington's offensive rating is the best ever, ahead of the 2000 Houston Comets who were at 109.1. Their 53.6 effective field goal percentage is also an all-time best. Basically, no one has ever scored as efficiently as this year's Mystics.

Delle Donne could be MVP: Mystics star Elene Delle Donne may take home her second WNBA MVP award. She had another monster season with 19.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game while posting the first 50-40-90 season in WNBA history. She shot 51.5 percent from the field, 43 percent from three and 97.4 percent from the free-throw line.

Delle Donne is also healthy this time around. Last year, she battled a left knee injury that limited her during the playoffs and contributed to the Mystics demise in the Finals.

They make lots of threes: The three-point shot has never been more important in basketball and the Mystics are better at it than anyone else in the WNBA. They led the league in three-pointers made and attempted, and were second in percentage this season. They hit 36.6 percent, second only to the Aces, on 25.4 attempts. Their 9.3 made threes per game were 1.8 more than the next team, the Connecticut Sun. 

The total numbers are impressive, but so is the Mystics' versatility of perimeter threats. Delle Donne is 6-foot-5, yet she hits her 43 percent on 3.9 attempts per game. Meesseman is a 6-foot-4 center who makes 42.2 percent on two attempts per game.  Then they have Myisha Hines-Allen, Tianna Hawkins, Aerial Powers, Kristi Tolliver and Ariel Atkins, who all shoot 35.7 percent or better from long range. 

Their defense is elite: It isn't just scoring and outside shooting that makes the Mystics great. They also have one of the best defenses with the athleticism and length to frustrate opponents. Washington was fourth in points allowed (77.3), sixth in defensive rating (98.1), fifth in turnovers forced (14.5), eighth in opponent field goal percentage (43) and seventh in opponent three-point percentage (34).

That led to both Atkins and Cloud earning second-team All-Defense this season. LaToya Sanders also drew consideration and, if you ask her teammates, was a glaring snub.

Run it back: The Mystics are on a mission to clear up some unfinished business. Last year, they made it all the way to the WNBA Finals, only to lose to the high-powered Seattle Storm.

The path is there for another deep playoff run, this time perhaps with a different result. 'Run it back' has been a mantra for the team all season. You will see it in hashtags on Twitter. They want to get back to the Finals and take home the first championship in franchise history.

Thibault could get a ring: Head coach Mike Thibault has enjoyed a long and distinguished basketball career that includes two NBA championships as an assistant with the Lakers in the early 1980s. He is the winningest coach in WNBA history.

But Thibault does not have a WNBA championship on his resume, at least not yet. He has lost in the Finals three times including twice during his days with Connecticut. Winning a title would represent a breakthrough for him and would make for a great story of someone finally reaching the mountaintop in their sport.

Toliver has been hurt: The biggest question mark for the Mystics going into the playoffs is the health of All-Star guard Kristi Toliver. She has been sidelined since Aug. 8 with a right knee contusion, an injury that forced her to miss 11 games. According to Thibault, she is "probably" going to play in Game 1 but if she does, she will be on a minutes restriction.

The Mystics closed the season well without her, winning 10 of the 11 games she missed. But Toliver is an important piece as a veteran leader and because of her three-point shooting and passing.