Phoenix Mercury Draft Preview

With the No. 1 pick and a healthy Diana Taurasi, the Mercury will likely have a lot to celebrate this year.
Christian Petersen/NBAE/Getty Images

First 3 Selections in 2013
  • No. 1 overall
  • No. 26 overall
    Last 3 First Round Picks (Pick, Year)
  • Samantha Prahalis (6, 2012)
  • Jasmine Thomas (12, 2011)
  • Alison Lacey (10, 2010)

  • Strengths
  • Balanced Scoring
  • Rebounding
  • Experience

  • Areas of Improvement
  • 3-Point Shooting
  • Ability to Force Turnovers
  • Need to Stay Healthy

  • Overview
    With the No. 1 pick in this year's draft, Phoenix coach Corey Gaines knows what he wants. But he's keeping it a secret.

    Well, sort of.

    "As you know, I am looking for someone who can dunk, somebody with a large wingspan," Gaines said with the subtlety of a fire alarm. "I'm looking for somebody that runs the floor and alters shots and definitely has an athletic build."

    Given that this year's Draft Lottery came with as much hype as any in history -- even broadcast on ESPN for the first time ever -- in large part due to a player that fits that exact prototype, it appears he may be in luck.

    Baylor's Brittney Griner -- the 6-foot-8 center that finished her college career second in the NCAA in career points and first in career blocks -- is the Holy Grail of this star-studded draft class. Her combination of size, athleticism, leaping ability and timing on the defensive end is, quite frankly, unlike anything we have seen in the women's game. She's a once-in-a-generation talent, and Phoenix, which had only a 27.6 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick in the Lottery, is now sitting in the highly coveted top spot.

    Griner is joined by two other game-changing prospects -- completing our "3 to See" -- that makes this draft, which will be televised on ESPN on Monday, April 15 in prime time for the first time ever, so special. In addition to Griner, the presence of Delaware's Elena Delle Donne, a uniquely talented 6-foot-5 wing with a big's body and a guard's game, and Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins, the best player in Notre Dame history with an army of fans, transforms this draft class into a landmark one.

    "You've seen the class that is coming out this year and you see it's a class that only comes out like once every ten years."

    If the Mercury were to follow Gaines' wish list and draft, let's say, Griner, he would be picking a player that doesn't fit the mold of the typical big in his up-tempo system. Both of Gaines' WNBA title-winning teams featured Tangela Smith, a stretch big, at the center position.

    Don't worry, Mercury fans, Gaines has a plan.

    "My mentor, Paul Westhead, who won a championship with the Lakers and a championship in the WNBA --only man to do that -- the good thing about his offense and his style is it adjusts to the players you have. Period," Gaines said. "You have a certain kind of player, you adjust to that."

    And Gaines has a type of player in mind. He's asking a lot. A whole lot. But he's optimistic.

    "I'm looking," Gaines said with a hint of a laugh. "And I'm thinking maybe I may find one like that on draft day."

    2012 (top 3 picks)
    6. Samantha Prahalis
    24. C'eira Ricketts
    30. Christine Flores   

    12. Jasmine Thomas
    19. Brittany Spears
    31. Tahnee Robinson

    24. Tyra Grant
    36. Nyeshia Stevenson
    34. Jessica Adair
    2012 LEADERS
    1. DeWanna Bonner (20.6)
    2. Diana Taurasi (14.0)
    3. Candice Dupree (13.2)

    1. Krystal Thomas (8.0)
    2. DeWanna Bonner (7.2)
    3. Avery Warley (5.7)

    1. Samantha Prahalis (4.5)
    2. Diana Taurasi (2.3)
    3. DeWanna Bonner (2.2)