Elena Delle Donne injury update: Mystics star set to debut season Sunday against Storm


The Washington Mystics should get a big boost on Sunday as star forward Elena Delle Donne is likely to make her season debut in their game against the Seattle Storm.

Mystics Coach Mike Thibault talked to journalists Saturday and reported that Delle Donne played five on five during practice and played without any hesitation. Delle Donne will be subject to a minute restriction, although it is not known exactly how much she will be able to play.

Delle Donne, who in 2019 won her second MVP and led the Mystics to their first title in franchise history, hasn’t played since the WNBA Finals that year. She had back surgery to heal a herniated disc after the 2019 season, but was expected to be ready to leave for 2020. However, when the pandemic struck, Delle Donne opted out of the bubble due to health concerns. Then, as she prepared for this season, she worsened her back injury and had to have a second surgery in January of this year.

While it was clear she wouldn’t be ready for the start of training camp, Delle Donne’s initial goal was to play the team’s first game of the season in May. That, of course, didn’t happen and the timeline shifted to a return from a post-Olympic break. Delle Donne started training a few weeks ago and is now allowed to try his hand at a live match.

“It has been mentally amazing to be back with my teammates and to compete again”, Delle Donnne said earlier this month. “It was a very difficult process, but I was able to stay the course and honestly hold on to every day.”

Before the injuries, Delle Donne was one of the best players in the league and a perennial MVP candidate. But after two back surgeries and almost two years without playing a game, it remains to be seen when – and if – she can return to that level. The mystics hope it will be as soon as possible.

Without Delle Donne and struggling with all manner of other health issues, the mystics naturally struggled. Heading into Sunday’s game against the Storm, they sit in 10th place at 8-13, excluding them from the playoffs. However, they are only half a game behind the Dallas Wings, eighth, and two games behind the Chicago Sky, sixth. If Delle Donne is even something close to herself, the Mystics still have time to leave at the end of the season.

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