Emma Meesseman, coming off the bench, named WNBA Finals MVP

Cassandra NegleyYahoo Sports Contributor
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/wnba/players/5182/" data-ylk="slk:Emma Meesseman">Emma Meesseman</a> was the Mystics missing piece for a championship. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Emma Meesseman was the Mystics missing piece for a championship. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

“Playoff Emma” became “MVP Emma.”

Emma Meesseman was the Washington Mystics’ X-factor throughout the entire playoffs and was named WNBA Finals MVP for her stellar performance following a 89-78 victory over the Connecticut Sun.

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Meesseman came off the bench and put up more than 20 points in three of the five games. She averaged 17.8 points per game, shooting 57 percent overall and 50 percent ( 7 of 14) from 3-point range over the series, and 4.6 rebounds per game. The 26-year-old is the longest-tenured Mystics player and missed only three of 13 free throws.

She missed last year’s finals while taking the season off and was called the “missing piece” by her teammates for them to overcome the final challenge to a title. The Mystics were swept by the Seattle Storm in 2018 and her squad has consistently reminded her this year that yes, they got to the finals without her, but they didn’t win it.

Now they, and she, have.

Thibault took a chance on the 6-foot-4 Belgian with the No. 19 pick in the 2013 draft. He had heard of the star, but never seen her play. Her mother, Sonja, was Belgium’s player of the year in 1983.

“There wasn’t a huge scouting process on her,” Thibault told The Athletic. “I had just taken the job, she was playing overseas, I saw film on her, and I asked my coaching friends in Europe, ‘Is this worth taking a chance on?’ They said, ‘Heck yeah.’”

Meesseman didn’t even know she had been drafted. A friend woke her up with a text to share the news, per The Athletic’s Lindsay Gibbs, and she only went to the United States to postpone an exam she hadn’t studied for enough.

It was the same draft year as regular season MVP Elena Delle Donne. Meesseman came into the final series off of a breakout semifinal against the Las Vegas Aces in which she scored 27, 30, 6 and 22, respectively. But in the finals, she slid into a pseudo-starter role in game 2 when Delle Donne left with back spams three minutes into the game.

Her performance was crucial with or without Delle Donne at 100 percent.

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