June 29, 2020
Washington Mystics add point guard Shey Peddy and center Alaina Coates
The signings bring the current Mystics roster up to 12 players
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Shey Peddy, Washington Mystics. (Domenic Allegra photo)
Washington Mystics point guard Shey Peddy was one of the WNBA’s feel-good stories last year, making her debut at 30 years old last June. She played in 15 games before being cut and transitioning into coaching as a Mystics video and analytics assistant.
On Monday, Peddy re-signed with the Mystics as a player to help replace point guard Natasha Cloud, who will sit out the 2020 season to focus on social justice reform. The team also signed free agent center Alaina Coates to provide depth in the absence of forward LaToya Sanders, who is sitting out for family and health reasons.
Peddy has played just 71 total minutes in the WNBA, but she has hit eight of her 13 shot attempts and four of eight 3-point attempts. She was drafted 23rd by Chicago in 2012 and has played extensively in Europe. In 2018-19, she was the seventh-highest scorer in the EuroLeague, averaging 15.2 points per game, and this past winter, she averaged 10.3 points and 2.5 assists. In January, she scored 30 points for Montpellier against Lyon, making eight of 10 3-pointers and adding two steals.
Part of the reason Mystics head coach and general manager Mike Thibault turned to Peddy is likely because of her familiarity with the team and its playbook. Peddy has been in multiple Mystics training camps and was with the team for most of its championship season last year.
Peddy (seventh from right, in black shirt) and the Mystics got their 2019 championship rings on Sunday.
However, Peddy’s talent, work ethic, and professionalism were almost certainly appealing as well. Last year, when asked about her mindset as a player, Peddy said she was focused on “trying to get better every single day. Even if I don’t get into the game, I come to practice, I work hard, do extra individual [workouts].” She added, “I want [Thibault] to know when he puts me in, he has confidence and trust in me … I have to keep focused, keep working on my game, and just be ready.”
Meanwhile, Coates has bounced around the WNBA since the Chicago Sky made her the No. 2 overall pick in 2017. After recovering from an injury that caused her to miss the 2017 season, she averaged 3.1 points and 2.9 rebounds in just under 10 minutes per game in the following two seasons. Last winter, she played five games with the Turkish team Hatay BSB and averaged 10.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 0.8 blocks per game while shooting 62.5% from the field.
While Coates has not put up the numbers expected of a No. 2 pick yet in the WNBA, perhaps things will fall into place with the Mystics. Most notably, although she played limited minutes, she ranked second in the league in 2019 in total rebounding rate (20.7%) and third in offensive rebounding rate (14.7) among players who played at least 100 minutes. Rebounding is one area that Thibault has identified for improvement this season, so it is worth watching whether Coates can help in that regard.
However, as of now, the Mystics’ frontcourt is rather crowded, including two WNBA MVPs (Elena Delle Donne, Tina Charles) and the 2019 WNBA Finals MVP (Emma Meesseman). So while Coates may not see much time on the court, she can learn from the stars ahead of her in the rotation as well as assistant coach Asjha Jones, a two-time WNBA All-Star at forward and the only woman to have won an NCAA title, a WNBA championship, and an Olympic gold medal as a player and a WNBA title as a coach.
Coates’s role could also expand if any of the Mystics’ other frontcourt players opt out of the 2020 season. The deadline to opt out was June 26, but multiple league sources told The Next’s Howard Megdal that the league could take several days to approve players’ requests to opt out for medical reasons.
After the Mystics won the 2019 WNBA title, Thibault expected nearly the entire roster to return for a chance to repeat in 2020. But there were a few changes in free agency, most notably the departure of Kristi Toliver and the addition of Tina Charles. And now, as players around the league decide whether to play this season, the Mystics’ roster suddenly features several new faces. Along with Coates and Charles, they include point guard Leilani Mitchell, whom Washington signed in February, and guard/forward Essence Carson, a free agent who was added last Friday. Wing Kiara Leslie will also presumably make her on-court debut after missing her rookie season last year due to injury.
Washington may therefore have different challenges this season than it anticipated in November, when the prevailing question was whether the Mystics could sustain their excellence for another full season and repeat as champions. Given the roster turnover and the unpredictability of this unprecedented WNBA season, they are now less of a known quantity and more of a work in progress.
In that sense, while Peddy and Coates may not play many minutes, they are important additions. With about a month until the WNBA is scheduled to tip off, these signings give the Mystics some answers at the back end of their rotation as they prepare for a new kind of season.
Written by Jenn Hatfield
Jenn Hatfield has been a contributor to The Next since December 2018 and is currently the site's managing editor, Washington Mystics beat reporter and Ivy League beat reporter. (She also writes the "Family Rivalries" series for The Next.) Her work has also appeared at FiveThirtyEight, Her Hoop Stats and FanSided.