Despite being selected in the first round with the 10th pick in the 2019 WNBA draft, former NC State guard Kiara Leslie did not play a game in the 2019 season due to a foot injury that kept her sidelined for the duration of the season. At long last on Saturday, July 25, Leslie made her professional debut and did not disappoint.
The defending champion Washington Mystics took on the Indiana Fever in each team’s first game of the 2020 season, a game that saw Leslie put up seven points and two rebounds. Leslie’s first points of her career came off a Shey Peddy-assisted lay-in that came immediately after a solid 3-point shot block by the Wolfpack alum.
After the Mystics put up 92 points through three quarters the team came back down to earth, going scoreless in the fourth quarter for over five minutes until Leslie scored her first 3-point shot of her professional career on a solid Leilani Mitchell assist.
Despite being without stars Tina Charles, who opted out of the 2020 season due to a medical condition, and Elena Delle Donne, who is attempting to opt out of the season for the same reason, the team still put up a whopping 101 points in a 25-point victory.
The Mystics will be playing only 10 players this season, with Charles and Delle Donne joined by Natasha Cloud, Kristi Toliver and LaToya Sanders in sitting out. Charles joined the team via a blockbuster trade from the New York Liberty, but will not suit up until next season.
Even with said players opting out, most of the rostered players still have tremendous experience and firepower, not to mention their championship win from last season. 2019 Finals MVP Emma Meesseman can still do it all and put up 14 points in the victory and Myisha Hines-Allen put up a career-high 27 points to go along with 10 rebounds in the game.
The Mystics have solid guard depth but Leslie will still have a chance to make a big impact and help propel Washington to a third straight WNBA Finals appearance. An underrated aspect of Leslie’s game is her ability to snag rebounds, averaging 7.2 in her final season with the Wolfpack. The Mystics only have one true center playing this season and any rebounding help by Leslie would make up for the loss of players such as Charles.
Next up, Leslie and the Mystics have back-to-back Finals rematches with the Connecticut Sun up first on Tuesday, July 28 at 7 p.m. Then, the team takes on the Seattle Storm on Thursday, July 30 at 6 p.m. The game against the Storm will be streamed on national television, on ESPN.