Elena Delle Donne: Russell Westbrook '1 of My Biggest Helps' During Back-Injury Rehab

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 9, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC -  MAY 14: Russell Westbrook #4 of the Washington Wizards arrives to the arena prior to the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on May 14, 2021 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Washington Mystics star Elena Delle Donne credited Los Angeles Lakers star Russell Westbrook with helping her through her recovery from multiple back surgeries.

Delle Donne told reporters Monday the now-former Washington Wizards guard "was one of my biggest helps through this."

"He would show up and it would just bring me out of a funk and be like, 'I got this, like I can keep doing this,' he believes in me," she said.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Elena Delle Donne says Russell Westbrook was “one of her biggest helps” during her rehab from injury: “Russ would come in, way too early on a game day even, and he would come in and rebound for me”<br><br>Real one 🙏 <a href="https://t.co/drDX97QAcA">pic.twitter.com/drDX97QAcA</a>

Delle Donne has yet to play this season after having opted out of the WNBA's 2020 campaign at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, because of concerns relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She acknowledged the recovery process from her back procedures has been difficult, calling it "something where there's a lot of gray."

"As many times as I want that black-and-white answer, it hasn't been that way," the two-time MVP told reporters. "There's been a lot of confusion. But I've had incredible people around me to help me on those tough days. And I realize we are so lucky when we get to play this game that we love, and to enjoy every second of it."

The Mystics have been without their biggest addition of the offseason as well after Alysha Clark suffered a Lisfranc injury. As a result, Washington is 8-10 and occupying the eighth and final playoff spot in the WNBA, a significant departure from winning 26 games and claiming a WNBA title in 2019.

Getting Delle Donne back after the All-Star break would be a nice shot in the arm for Washington, though it remains to be seen whether she can immediate replicate the standard she set during her second MVP campaign.

The 31-year-old was the first WNBA player to enter the 50/40/90 club, shooting 51.5 percent from the field, 43.0 percent from three-point range and 97.4 percent from the charity stripe. By having something close to that version of Delle Donne in the lineup, the Mystics could begin to peak at just the right time ahead of the playoffs.