Washington Mystics star Elena Delle Donne addressed the media on Monday afternoon at training camp and gave an update every fan around the league, but particularly those in the DMV area, was hoping to hear: she is back to 100 percent and doesn't plan to sit out any games for rest this season.
"The offseason went great. It was my first offseason in a really long time where I wasn't rehabbing and I was actually able to train," Delle Donne said. "I'm by far the strongest I've ever been, even weight-wise when I'm lifting in the weight room. I didn't even think that would happen. I feel like I've been able to really improve on some things and continue on the path that I was on.
"I don't plan to miss any games. I think that's the biggest thing: just my presence and being there. I've been in this league for a while now. I've played with some of the greatest players to play this game. So there's a lot that I've learned and that I feel like I can pass on to the rest of our team."
Delle Donne has been dealing with extensive back problems, which date back to the 2019 Finals, when she played through multiple herniated discs to lead the Mystics to their first title in franchise history.
She required surgery to correct the issue, then sat out of the entire 2020 season in the bubble due to health concerns related to both her back and COVID-19. While preparing to return in 2021, she felt nerve pain and underwent another surgery. The rehab for her second back procedure took longer than expected, and she only played three games that season. Though she was ready to start the 2022 campaign, the team took extensive steps to get her through the entire summer and she was limited to 25 games.
Now 33 years old, it was fair to wonder if that was the version of Delle Donne we would get for the remainder of her career -- still one of the best players in the league, but one who could not play every game. That she's back to her best is tremendous news.
The defending champion Las Vegas Aces and new-look New York Liberty are by far the two favorites to win the title this season, but if any team is going to crash the party it would be the Mystics. They only have a chance to do so, though, if Delle Donne is fully healthy. At least for now, she is.