| 2006 Record|
(5th in West)
Award Winners & Honorees
2006 Draft Recap
Dispersal Draft Results
But Taurasi was not the only member of the Mercury heating up the desert. Rookie teammate Cappie Pondexter also chipped in with an impressive 19.5 points per game. The second overall pick in last year's Draft joined Taurasi on the Western Conference All-Star Team and the Mercury came up just short of being the first WNBA team in league history to have two players average over 20 ppg.
Let's not beat around the bush: This was the best offense in the league. They scored the most points per game (87.1) and were among the top five in field goal percentage (44.3), free throw percentage (78.5), rebounds per game (33.7) and assists per game (18.8). They lost the tiebreaker, though, and fell just short of returning to the postseason for the first time since 2000.
While the Mercury were clearly capable of igniting their offense, they had a lot of trouble hosing down the opposition. Their opponents regularly scored above their average ppg, and the Phoenix defense allowed the most points in the league.
It also didn't help that Penny Taylor, along with her 13.9 ppg, missed the first half of the season to spend time with her family in Australia. Her strong defensive play might have helped the Mercury get out of the gate a little more positively: They were 6-8 before she arrived.
Coach Paul Westhead implemented a high-tempo, fast-paced offense last season and may not have had all the right athletes to fit into the system, especially post players who could run the floor. With a team that takes as many shots as the Mercury do, rebounding is a big need and one in which the Mercury struggled in 2006.
Defense is clearly the area in which Phoenix has the most room for improvement. But with the departure of free agent center Kristen Rasmussen to Connecticut and the loss of Kamila Vodichkova for the season due to pregnancy, the Mercury now need size and rebounding as well.
|Head Coach |
2006 Starting Lineup
-G- Cappie Pondexter
-G- Diana Taurasi
-F- Kelly Miller
-F- Kamila Vodichkova
-C- Kristen Rasmussen
Key 2006 Reserves
-Kamila Vodichkova (pregnancy)
The Mercury also re-signed starting point guard Kelly Miller. She returns to Phoenix coming off a career high in ppg (11), rpg (5.3) and apg (3.5). The six-year veteran has proven herself to be a key cog in the Mercury's offensive machine.
Phoenix used its pick in the Dispersal Draft to grab Kelly Mazzante. Last season, Mazzante averaged 8.9 ppg and ranked third in the league for 3-pointers made (64). She'll add another offensive threat to this high-scoring bunch.
The Mercury also re-signed their top two reserves in forward Jennifer Lacy and guard Jen Derevjanik. Lacy finished off her rookie year averaging 4.9 points and 3.1 rebounds, and Derevjanik signed with Phoenix on June 1 after playing with the Connecticut Sun for the first two years of her career.
Hey you never know! At a 2.5% probability, Phoenix was the least likely team to receive the first overall pick in the draft, but luck was on their side. They're in fantastic shape on the offensive side of the ball. If they draft a tough defender capable of grasping the Mercury's run-and-gun style, they will be a definite -- and dangerous -- playoff contender in the West.