The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Delle Donne and Toliver are raising expectations for the Mystics. But there’s a Storm out west.

Washington needs more players to step up so the team can compete with league leaders.

Thanks in part to star Elena Delle Donne, the Washington Mystics are having a good season. (Terrance Williams/For The Washington Post)

It seems most of the recent pro basketball news has been taking place off the court.

Superstar LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers and signed a four-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. James will definitely make the Lakers — who haven’t had a winning season in the past five years — a much better team.

Four-time National Basketball Association all-star DeMarcus Cousins signed with the Golden State Warriors. Now the NBA champions, who also recently re-signed Kevin Durant, have five all-star players.

But there is one place where the basketball news is happening on the court: the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).

Locally, the Washington Mystics are having a good season. Elena Delle Donne, in her second year with the team, is playing like a star, averaging 20.5 points and 7.1 rebounds.

Delle Donne is 6 feet 5 inches tall, but she is also a deadeye shot. The Mystics forward has hit 47.7 percent of her shots this season, including 39.3 percent from three-point range. And she rarely misses from the foul line: Delle Donne has made 91.1 percent of her free throws.

The Mystics also have a terrific veteran point guard in Kristi Toliver. You know how some players are so smart they are called “a coach on the floor”? Well, Toliver really is a coach.

When she is not averaging almost 14 points a game and leading the Mystics in assists, Toliver works as an assistant coach with the Washington Wizards Summer League team. (The summer league features NBA draft picks and other young players.)

So with these two all-stars, the Mystics should do well in the playoffs, right? Not so fast. The Mystics may have a solid 14-11 record (14 wins, 11 losses), but that’s mainly because Washington is 8-0 against the three weakest teams in the WNBA: the Chicago Sky (9-17), New York Liberty (7-18) and Indiana Fever (3-23).

The Mystics probably won’t become one of the stronger WNBA teams unless other players step up and help Delle Donne and Toliver.

Similar to the NBA, most of the best WNBA teams are in the West Division.

Leading the pack is the Seattle Storm (19-7). Like the Mystics, Seattle is led by a star forward and a veteran point guard. Breanna Stewart is similar to Delle Donne, only better. The 6-foot-4-inch forward averages 22.8 points and 8.2 rebounds while hitting 54 percent of her shots.

The Storm’s point guard is even more amazing. Sue Bird is 37 years old (that’s old to be playing pro hoops) but is still among the WNBA leaders in assists.

So if you want to see real basketball action, don’t wait for the next NBA contract signing: Check out the WNBA.

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