The Mercury Five: June 6-12
Every Thursday throughout the season, PhoenixMercury.com's Ben York gives the X-Factor the five most important things they need to know about the team heading into the upcoming week.
5. Candice Dupree's Hot Start
It's still very early in the 2013 season, but Candice Dupree is off to an incredibly hot start.
Her 16.5 ppg is tied with the highest average of her career (2007) while also playing the most minutes of her career (36.0). Furthermore, Dupree is shooting 87 percent from the free-throw line, which is good for the second-best average of her career (she shot 94 percent from the charity stripe in 2010 - her first year in Phoenix).
But more than the numbers she's putting up, Dupree looks to be in the best shape I've ever seen her in and is scoring from all areas on the floor -- in the paint, on the wing, free-throw line extended, etc.
Certainly, Dupree's consistency thus far is a phenomenal sign.
4. Taking Care of the Ball
There's no doubt that the Mercury's offense hasn't clicked to the point everyone is comfortable with so far, but a better indication of a potential breakout game might be in how the team is taking care of the ball.
As a team, Phoenix averages 13.0 turnovers per game in 2013. Now, it is this writer's opinion that if the Mercury keeps their turnovers at that number or less, it usually bodes well for the team. Conversely, the Mercury is also averaging just 13.0 assists per game this season -- typically the APG number is closer to 20 when the Mercury's offense clicks. There are many reasons why their assist-to-turnover ratio isn't where it needs to be, but it should be encouraging that the team isn't turning the ball over more in spite of their struggles offensively.
That number indicates, to me, that the Mercury is closer to putting up big numbers offensively than many think.
3. Charde Houston's Bench Play
She might only be getting about 15 minutes of play per game, but Charde Houston is making the most of her opportunities.
Through the team's first two games, Houston is shooting 83 percent from the floor and hasn't missed a 3-point shot or free-throw.
On top of that, she's tied with Sammy Prahalis for the team-high in assists per game (3.5) and is averaging just 0.5 turnovers per game (one total turnover), making her assist-to-turnover ratio amongst the best in the league. Against Seattle on June 2, Houston had six assists - a career best.
2. Griner's Impact
As Mercury Communications Manager Bret Burchard points out, rookie Brittney Griner has shown her ability to dominate stretches of the game.
It won’t be long before she puts together two matching halves.
Check out the graphs to the right. In the second half against the Sky, Griner tallied 15 points on 6-10 shooting, six rebounds, three blocks and just one personal foul.
In the first half against Seattle, she put up 12 points on 6-7 shooting, two rebounds, three blocks and, again, just one foul.
Rather, Griner scored 15 of her 17 points in the second half against the Sky, and 12 of her 17 points in the first half versus the Storm.
When she puts a full game together, watch out.
1. Taurasi Milestone Watch: 6,000 Points
As of June 6, Diana Taurasi is just 437 points shy of reaching 6,000 career points.
If Taurasi reaches 6,000 career points this season, she will reach the milestone quicker than any player in league history and would be just the fifth player to reach the milestone (Tina Thompson, Lisa Leslie, Katie Smith and Lauren Jackson).
Taurasi has scored less than 465 points in a season just one time (112 points in 2012 when she played in just eight games).