As she closes in on the end of her second season in the WNBA, Washington Mystics guard Jasmine Thomas has learned a valuable lesson. After trying to transform into the classic point guard, she finally decided the best approach was just to be herself.
The new mind-set has been paying dividends, and Thomas enters Washington’s game against Atlanta (11-11) on Friday night at Verizon Center playing her best basketball of the year.
“I’ve got to play my game. I can’t try to play like someone else or try to force myself to fit in,” said Thomas, who took on more of a scoring role when she starred at Duke in college. “I just have to play my game and we work around it.”
The former All-Met Player of the Year from Oakton has been particularly good the past two games. In an overtime win against Chicago last Sunday, she dished out a career high eight assists and scored the game-winning three-pointer in the extra period. Thomas then followed it up by tying her season high with 17 points in a loss to San Antonio on Tuesday.
That she has been able to vacillate between distributor and scorer is a good sign for a team that has struggled to generate offense. Washington is the lowest-scoring team in the WNBA, and part of the problem has been its inability to find a consistent point guard.
General Manager-Coach Trudi Lacey signed guard Shannon Bobbitt in the middle of the season when veteran offseason acquisition Dominique Canty was released and Thomas struggled early in the season with turnovers. That still remains an issue after Thomas committed five turnovers against San Antonio.
But she said her resurgence has to do with embracing her aggressive side and “remembering the things that you’re known for and good at. . . . When I’m tentative and play slow and walk the ball up, always trying to make the perfect decision, I’m kind of handicapped. If I’m not aggressive, it really takes me out of my game.”
Her improved play has only resulted in one Washington win since the WNBA’s Olympic break ended, but the Mystics (5-17) suddenly find themselves just 3.5 games out of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot as the teams above them in the standings – Chicago and New York (both 8-13) – have also faltered.
“It’s given us a window,” Thomas said. “Just because we’re at the bottom doesn’t mean we can settle for being at the bottom.”