August 3, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: Can Brittney Sykes lead hobbled Washington Mystics to glory?

And when will the Mystics' injured players return?

In the latest episode of Locked on Women’s Basketball, host Howard Megdal talks to Washington Mystics beat reporter Jenn Hatfield about the injuries the team has faced and how guard Brittney Sykes has become the team’s top offensive option over the last month.

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Sykes is currently averaging a career-high 14.5 points along with 4.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.2 steals per game. She is also shooting 33.3% from behind the arc, her best percentage in six years, on 3.1 attempts per game. Jenn recently wrote about the factors behind Sykes’ emergence offensively for the Mystics, and here’s how she summarized those to Howard:

“She’s feeling comfortable and free to do all of the things that she does in Washington. In her previous stops … she sometimes was put in a box a little bit and told, ‘Go stand in the corner and drive to the rim and that’s your thing. Don’t shoot threes. You don’t need to do that.’ And here in Washington, when the Mystics first even talked to her in free agency, they said, ‘Why don’t you shoot more threes?’ … And then she started shooting more threes overseas and they started falling …

“So she’s feeling fulfilled in kind of all aspects, and it’s translating into one of the more monster months of July that we’ve seen from arguably any WNBA player. She’s just been on a tear and really carrying this team.”

Jenn also talked about the Mystics’ mentality as they remain without starters Ariel Atkins, Shakira Austin and Elena Delle Donne and reserve Kristi Toliver due to injury ahead of two home games against the Los Angeles Sparks this weekend:

“They’ve lost five of their past six, including getting swept on a three-game road trip last week. So they are in need of all the good home crowd vibes … They’ve talked about acting like the team that they want to be at the end of the year. So they’re not healthy now, but how do they want to carry themselves when they are healthy? How do they want to play when they are healthy? Making sure that they’re playing that way now, that they’re carrying themselves with confidence, doing all the little things. [Head coach] Eric Thibault talked [to reporters] today about how sometimes your habits can slip a little bit when you don’t have practice [time], even things as simple as how quickly you get up court after the other team scores.”

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