Phoenix Mercury

2010 Finish
15-19, 2nd in the Western Conference. Lost in the Conference Finals.

Returning Players
  • DeWanna Bonner, G-F
  • Lauren Ervin, F (Training camp)
  • Kara Braxton, C-F
  • Marie Ferdinand-Harris, F (Signed as FA)
  • Candice Dupree, F
  • Alexis Gray-Lawson, G (Training camp)
  • Temeka Johnson, G
  • Erlana Larkins, F (Training camp)
  • Taylor Lilley, G
  • Nakia Sanford, F-C (Signed as FA)
  • Ketia Swanier, G
  • Amanda Thompson, F-C (Training camp)
  • Diana Taurasi, F-G
  • Penny Taylor, F
  • Departures
    Free Agents
  • Tangela Smith, C (Signed with IND)
  • Brooke Smith, F-C (Waived on Mar. 14)
  • Sequoia Holmes, G-F (Signed with WAS)
  • Needs

  • Point Guard
  • Defense
  • Overview
    With the 19th overall pick in the 2011 WNBA Draft, evidence would suggest the Phoenix Mercury will not be big players in this year’s selection process. Mercury general manager Ann Meyers Drysdale recently supported that exact statement in a phone interview with

    A majority of Phoenix’s players will be returning next season; which is to say space is already limited on the Mercury bus. In fact, if you factor in returning players from 2010 with the offseason signings of Marie Ferdinand-Harris and Nakia Sanford and the training camp contracts of Alexis Gray, Amanda Thompson, Lauren Ervin and Taylor Lilley, that already makes up for 13 of the team’s 15 camp roster spots - fitting for a team with just two draft picks in 2011.

    Looking at the Mercury’s recent selections in the draft, you’ll find that every new players is met with the challenge of trying to make an impact. Last year’s picks in the second and third round failed to make the roster, as the Mercury front office opted instead to give undrafted free agent Taylor Lilley a shot. She ultimately played in 21 games for Phoenix, but her averages of 3.3 points and 11 minutes per game does not stand up to the numbers you’d want from an impact player.

    Two years ago it was a different story for DeWanna Bonner, selected fifth overall by the Mercury in 2009. She has since gone on to win two consecutive Sixth Woman of the Year awards and a championship ring, all while posting career averages of 11.6 points and 5.9 rebounds in 23.3 minutes per game.

    “On our team, unfortunately, I think it’s difficult for a player to come in, but believe me, the door is wide open because there are a couple of spots,” said Meyers Drysdale. “And there are some pretty talented kids coming out.”

    Even so, Phoenix’s GM added that much has changed since the early days of the WNBA. What started as a league filled with experienced veterans from the ABL and international circuits, has evolved into a league where shorter rosters place general managers in a position where it comes down to considering a war-tested veteran over a newly acquired rookie.

    Last season stands as an example of Phoenix’s intentions moving forward in 2011. The Mercury traded Nicole Ohlde and its first-round pick to the Tulsa Shock in exchange for center Kara Braxton, who later signed an extension to remain with the club. Had the team opted to instead hold on to the pick, they’d have the seventh pick in the first round. Certainly an upgrade from the 19th spot, but not the direction the team had in mind.

    “We felt, going into our 15th season, that the way to win is you certainly want to have young talent on the team,” said Meyers Drysdale. “But you want to have young talent that has experience in the league or has been playing overseas now.”

    The six-year veteran, Braxton, isn’t necessarily “young” by rookie standards, but her championship experience with the Detroit Shock is an intangible that can’t be had with any incoming draft pick.

    “I’d like to think we’re like a Boston Celtics team,” said Meyers Drsydale. “Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, you got somebody like Bill Walton coming in off the bench. It’s like Detroit when they had Vinnie Johnson coming in off the bench. You have to have those kinds of players.”

    There’s no question that Phoenix has its core in place as the draft approaches, but the team will keep its doors open as well with the hopes of finding that next spark off the bench.

    -- Frank Della Femina,

    (Follow Frank's Twitter Updates on Draft Day)

    2011 Selections

  • No. 19 (R2)
  • No. 31 (R3)
  • Recent Draft History

    2010 20092008
    24. Tyra Grant5. DeWanna Bonner13. LaToya Pringle
    36. Nyeshia Stevenson 31. Sha Brooks 25. Leilani Mitchell
    34. Jessica Adair 41. Marscilla Packer