Brittney Sykes’ aggression paves way for her transition to the Mystics
Sykes’ aggression paves way for her transition to Mystics originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Brittney Sykes, better known as ‘Slim’ around the Washington Mystics’ facilities, was brought to D.C. this past offseason to provide a spark.
Three games in, she’s done just that and then some.
Though the Mystics have dropped their last two games to Connecticut and are 1-2 on the year, Sykes’ aggression on both ends of the floor has set a tempo that the rest of the team hopes to emulate and build upon. It’s only fitting that a three-time all-defensive team member and two-time WNBA steals leader brings a certain level of energy to her new squad.
“I gotta be aggressive. Like, I can’t take a night off because, say if it's not even about scoring, I know that me being aggressive and attacking creates opportunities for my teammates,” Sykes said after the Mystics’ 88-81 loss to the Sun on Tuesday. “So I just know going into every game, especially on both ends, not just offensively but defensively, just to lead the head of the snake and really get locked down on defense. That generates our offense and we're doing really, really well in transition.”
Sykes’ burst on both ends was evident from tip-off on Tuesday night, as she quelled Washington’s cold start from the floor with two three-pointers to start their scoring off. She finished with 17 points on the night (second only to Elena Delle Donne), seven rebounds and four assists.
She was also 3-for-5 from long range, something she credits to her surrounding cast in Washington.
“My shot feels really good. Shoutout to the Mystics, the coaching staff, my teammates -- no, seriously -- going into free agency, one of the things that my ear ring and made my heart warm was that the staff had so much confidence in me wanting to shoot the three,” she said postgame. “I have people that's surrounding me that have been encouraging me to shoot that shot and not give it up, because I've given it up so many times in the past. And now I'm starting to shoot that with confidence and just poise, and it feels really good.”
Sykes, 29, is now averaging double-figures scoring this season with an even 10.0 ppg clip after three games to go along with 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals. Her infectious effort has not gone unnoticed by her teammates or coaches, either.
“You know how active she is defensively, but until you see it up close every day and just how much she disrupts with hands and feet, it's another level,” head coach Eric Thibault said after Tuesday’s game. “I'm still trying to figure out ways to get her opportunities to play in space offensively, because I think she can make some plays for us.”
Sykes has started each game of the season thus far for Washington alongside fellow veteran Natasha Cloud in the backcourt. Coupled with Delle Donne and Shakira Austin down low, the Mystics can continue to use Sykes as the defensive sparkplug they need to carry their reputation from last year as the WNBA’s best defensive squad.
Though it’s Sykes’ first year in the nation’s capital, she feels like she’s been here for a while. That might be the reason why the chemistry between her and her teammates feels genuine.
“That transition coming in, I felt like I was already here. It just made the reassurance even more that I made the right decision in free agency because I don't think I've ever had a smoother transition into a new team or felt this comfortable flowing in the offense and just playing basketball,” Sykes said. “I'm just grateful I can land in a place like this, on and off the court. It's just a great position for me so I'm thankful for them for even looking my way.”