The Washington Mystics have started the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) season with losses to the Chicago Sky and Phoenix Mercury.

Two lost games is no big deal, but the Mystics are a different team from the squad that won the WNBA title in 2019.

Washington expected to make a strong defense of its crown in 2020 after it added five-time all-star Tina Charles to its lineup. But the coronavirus pandemic hit and four key players — Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud, LaToya Sanders and Charles — decided to sit out the 2020 season. In addition, starting point guard Kristi Toliver signed with the Los Angeles Sparks.

The Mystics continued with players such as Myisha Hines-Allen and Ariel Atkins, who had been backups and role players. The team finished with a 9-13 (9 wins, 13 losses) record and lost in the first round of the playoffs.

This is a new year, but there are parts of the team that are still missing. Emma Meesseman, who was the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2019 Finals and a starter for the Mystics in 2020, is playing in a league overseas at least until August. Hines-Allen is also playing overseas and will be missing for several games early in the season.

WNBA players do not make the huge salaries that the men in the NBA make. The average WNBA salary is about $100,000 per season. That’s pretty good for six months’ work, but the average NBA salary is about 100 times that, or $10 million. Some WNBA players play overseas to make more money.

But the biggest missing element for the Mystics is Delle Donne. The 6-foot-5-inch do-everything forward who was the MVP of the 2019 season is recovering from back surgery. She will be out for some of the early games.

When Delle Donne is healthy, she is one of the best players on the planet. She is the only player in WNBA history to be part of the “50-40-90 club.” That means a player who sank more than 50 percent of their shots from the floor, 40 percent of their three-point attempts and 90 percent of their free throws in a season.

Delle Donne achieved this incredible feat in 2019, when she hit 51.5 percent from the field, 43 percent of her three-pointers and an unbelievable 97.4 percent from the foul line.

Some NBA players who are members of the “50-40-90 club” include shooting legends such as Larry Bird, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.

If the Mystics can get their best players healthy and on the floor, they should have a good team. Maybe not strong enough to challenge the defending champion Seattle Storm, but certainly a playoff team.

The question is: When will the Mystics get their best players on the floor together?