The 2022 season was an experiment on how to translate Rui Machida’s play into the WNBA. Currently. The Mystics point guard wants to play a future season in the WNBA.
The atmosphere that followed Rui Machida’s introductory press conference last April was one of experience. For both Machida and the Mystics, the 2022 season was an experiment on how to translate their game into the WNBA.
At least for Machida, she wants to extend that experience and play a future season in the WNBA. After a small taste, you want more.
Bringing the Japanese star to the capital was a relatively low-risk move for both parties. First, for Machida, she would not at any point miss out with her core team, the Fujitsu red wave as the WNBA season during the holiday season for the Japan Women’s Basketball League (JWBL). It is also a chance for her to play in the top women’s league in the world.
For Mystics, they brought in one of the best international point guards on the cheap. She is signed to a contract of at least $60,471 per Spotrac. He’s also been a soft spot since Christy Tolliver left after 2019.
“To be honest, I learned quite a lot,” Machida said through her translator Miki Takei at the end of the season. “I can’t decide whether [biggest thing I learned] But it’s like there are good and bad things to learn. Well, like the moment it hits a wall. So it was a momentary experience.”
She has proven herself even more in her first season outside of her home country. Immediately, the team began the process of integrating Machida into the team culture when she arrived. that they eHold her despite the language barrier.
Machida was the team’s reserve point guard behind Natasha Cloud and never missed a match. This durability was a challenge for her due to time zone travel (which doesn’t exist in Japan) and the strict schedule of packing 36 games into four months.
With a loaded roster, the average goalkeeper was only 5 feet 4 minutes per game. But those minutes count 1.8 points and 2.6 assists per game. Those numbers may not seem like much, but they translate to a 40.4 assist percentage which was the third best percentage in the league (at least 10 games played). Just behind her teammate Cloud and Jordin Canada, this is a very good company. Also, her assist percentage was 42.5, second in the WNBA.
“Individually I put pressure on myself. If I could do what I wanted all season, but even for at least minutes, I was able to do what the coaches or other teammates told me,” said Machida. “That’s what I was able to do. all season long.”
The 29-year-old’s biggest obstacle was finding her shot. Throughout the season it has been emphasized to her. Take the open shot when available.
It led to some memorable moments in both training and gaming as she returned to the shooting action. The team and fans were on a rampage when it went down. Each one is some of her favorite moments over the past year.
But she averaged 2.3 shots per game, coming in 31.0% from the field and 20.6% from a 3-point range. Head coach Mike Thibault said she still has to build on this element of her game if she wants to continue in the WNBA.
“She knows that if she’s going to make this league long-term, she’s going to have to be an even bigger threat offensively,” Tybolt said. “It’s just a fact of the game. She knows she’s working on things every day and we’ll see how it translates this winter. She’ll try to use that and her team in Japan. It’s not for granted that you can make all these leaps but I think she knows that’s a big key for us. In order to play honestly. And that’s just the truth of the matter. You have to shoot to be a goalkeeper in this league and play big minutes.”
Her Japanese season begins in less than three weeks, where she will be until next April. For next summer, she and her fans are hoping to return to the island country once again in the WNBA.