Tina Charles is on a tear. The 6’Four large is prospering in her first yr in Washington scoring at a extra prolific and environment friendly clip than ever, spreading the ground like by no means earlier than, and giving D.C. followers hope that the crew’s 2019 championship run was only a style of what’s to come back.
When Washington traded for Charles in 2020, she was coming off the worst season of her storied profession. She shot a career-low 38.9 percent from the field to score 16.9 points per game, which was her lowest common since her rookie season. After one season off as a result of Covid-19, she’s bounced again after which some.
By simply eight video games, Charles has scored 29 or extra factors 4 instances. At 25.9 factors per recreation, she holds a 3.7 point lead over the next-best scorer within the league, 2019 MVP Breanna Stewart, and he or she’s taking pictures three % higher (46.3). The Mystics may solely be 3-5 as a crew, however there’s loads purpose to be optimistic, and Charles is main that cost.
For many of her profession, Charles has been a back-to-the-basket and low-post scorer. Within the first six seasons of her profession, she only attempted 17 3-point shots, and in 2014 she didn’t try a single one. That’s why it was a curious transfer for D.C. — a crew that’s positioned within the top-Four in 3-point makes an attempt per recreation in every of the final seven years — to take a position draft capital and cap area on a participant who operates within the ranges they’ve moved to eradicate. In 2019, Charles took the third-most mid-range shots of any participant within the league.
However Charles has purchased into head coach Mike Thibault’s system which focuses on perimeter ball motion, drive-and-kicking, and spacing, and it’s taking her offense to the subsequent stage. She’s launching a career-high 5.5 3-point attempts per game and making 34.1 % of them. Better of all, she’s reduce out the least environment friendly photographs from her repertoire.
In 2019, Charles took 39.9 percent of her shot attempts from between 10 toes from the ring and simply contained in the 3-point line. This yr she’s taking simply 21.Three % of her photographs in that vary whereas firing 17.1 % extra photographs from distance. Charles’s shot choice has improved, and he or she’s had extra open appears than ever earlier than.
Charles discovering new life with the Mystics couldn’t have come at a greater time for the franchise. Two years in the past, Washington wiped the ground with its competitors, outscoring opponents by 14.8 points per 100 possessions. The crew regarded unstoppable with an abundance of younger expertise to push a possible dynasty ahead, however there have been plenty of pace bumps alongside the way in which.
A wage cap crunch left Kristi Toliver to signal with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2020 free company. Then Charles, Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud and LaToya Sanders all opted out of the 2020 bubble season. Within the 2021 free company interval, Aerial Powers left the franchise to signal with the Minnesota Lynx, and her substitute, Alysha Clark, tore her Achilles earlier than the beginning of the WNBA season. Then Sanders retired, and Delle Donne continues to be sidelined this season since having again surgical procedure within the winter.
However Charles has embraced her function because the now-centerpiece of the Mystics franchise till co-star Delle Donne’s return. And she or he has a superb supporting solid with Cloud, Ariel Atkins and 2020 breakout participant Myisha Hines-Allen again within the rotation. With Charles within the fold scoring with each effectivity and quantity, the Mystics instantly should be thought of potential contenders once more.
There are a great deal of ifs in play, reminiscent of when Delle Donne goes to return and what she’ll seem like when she does slot again into the rotation. It’s unclear when or if Emma Meesseman will return after the Olympic break, too. But when these main items fall into place, it’s robust to not see Washington as a critical menace given the extent Charles is taking part in at.
Her 31 points on 9-of-18 shooting including three 3-pointers had been sufficient to guide the Mystics over the Lynx on Tuesday with out EDD or Meesseman, and even towards Jonquel Jones, Charles poured in 29 points on 11-of-22 shooting in a five-point loss to the Solar. She will be able to nonetheless be a crew’s high scoring possibility, and her potential to take over on any given evening bodes properly for Washington long-term.
The Mystics have an actual likelihood to wreak havoc in a playoff system that has six of eight groups play win-or-go-home video games till it’s confirmed that Charles’ dominance could be stopped.