The direction that General Manager and Coach Trudi Lacey is taking the Washington Mystics in came into sharp focus during the past three days. From trading for center Nicky Anosike on Saturday, to drafting forward Victoria Dunlap and wing player Karima Christmas on Monday afternoon, to trading for center Ta’Shia Phillips and point guard Kelly Miller on Monday night, Lacey is putting her stamp on this team.
When looking at who Lacey brought in, it is evident that she values players who place a premium on defense and are versatile enough to play multiple positions.
* Anosike, a 6-foot-4 center, ranks in the top 10 in the WNBA in rebounds (6.8), steals (2.0) and blocks (1.0) per game.
* Dunlap, a 6-1 forward, is the Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year. She had nearly 300 steals and almost 200 blocks in her career at Kentucky.
* Phillips, a 6-6 center, is the Atlantic 10 defensive player of the year. She ranked second in Division I in rebounding (12.4 per game) last season and is Xavier’s all-time leading rebounder.
* Christmas, a 6-foot guard-forward, averaged 6.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals for Duke last season.
* Miller, a 5-10 point guard, is a 10-year veteran of the league. Her best years were in Phoenix where she helped lead the Mercury to the 2007 WNBA title. During her three seasons in Phoenix (2006-8), she averaged more than four assists per game.
The dust is only beginning to settle on what has been a busy 72 hours for the Mystics, but Washington appears to have taken significant steps to address areas of concern. In the front court, all-star Crystal Langhorne won’t have to go it alone anymore. Instead, she will have Anosike, Phillips and Dunlap to carry some of the load. The loss of Monique Currie to an ACL injury is lessened somewhat by the addition of Christmas. And Lindsey Harding’s departure is offset by Miller’s arrival.
“Kelly is a great addition,” Lacey said. “Ta’Shia Phillips, at 6-6 is one of the best rebounders in the game. Victoria Dunlap is the type of player that I like: athletic, can score, run, rebound. And I don’t want to forget Christmas either, because she played a lot of different roles for Duke, and she can help us in that back-up three position with Monique recovering from her injury. We filled a lot of roles [Monday]. We feel good about it. We really do.
“I really feel blessed that it worked out the way that it did. Now it took a lot of work to acquire the type of players that we were able to get, with the versatility, with the athleticism and the skill sets that we needed to complement the players that we have.”
Although Harding had expressed a desire to play in Atlanta a while back, the deal wasn’t complete until close to 8 p.m. on Monday, several hours after the draft ended.
“I had several deals kind of going at once,” Lacey said. “Doing what we felt was best for the Mystics organization to put the most competitive product on the floor that we could, we looked at the whole picture and that ended up being the way to go.”
Lacey may not be done dealing yet. Though she did not provide any specifics, she did say, “There’s probably a little more that can happen.”