Mercury Wins the No. 1 Pick

At today’s WNBA Draft Lottery, the Phoenix Mercury was awarded the No. 1 overall selection in the 2013 WNBA Draft. The Lottery was held in Bristol, Conn., and broadcast during ESPN’s 3 p.m. PDT (6 p.m. ET) edition of SportsCenter. The Mercury entered the Lottery with a 27.6 percent chance at the top pick, the second-best odds, becoming the third team in the last four years to win the Lottery with the second-best odds. Head Coach and General Manager Corey Gaines represented the team at today’s Lottery.

It marks the third time in franchise history the Mercury has held the No. 1 overall selection. In 2004 the Mercury selected UConn guard Diana Taurasi first overall. Taurasi has gone on to be named First Team All-WNBA seven times, WNBA and WNBA Finals MVP in 2009 and five times has led the league in scoring.

In 2007 the Mercury traded the first overall pick to the Minnesota Lynx in exchange for stretch-center Tangela Smith, whom then-Head Coach Paul Westhead considered to be the missing piece in his patented up-tempo style of play. With Smith trailing the break and shooting 37.1 percent from the 3-point line, the third-best career mark in franchise history, the Mercury won two WNBA championships in a span of three seasons.

In each of the last four seasons, the No. 1 overall pick has also earned WNBA Rookie of the Year, including UConn alums Maya Moore (2011, Minnesota) and Tina Charles (2010, Connecticut), Louisville’s Angel McCoughtry (2009, Atlanta) and Tennessee’s Candace Parker (2008, Los Angeles).

The Mercury this season entered the Draft Lottery after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and just the second time in the last six years. The last two times the Mercury missed the playoffs (2006 and 2008), the club returned to win the championship the following season.

Phoenix has advanced to the Western Conference Finals four of the last five years, but was decimated by injuries this season. In all, Mercury players combined to miss 107 games this season from nine different players, including 26 games by Taurasi, 21 by Candice Dupree and the entire season by Penny Taylor, the team’s top three scorers from 2011, combining for 52.9 points per game.

The Chicago Sky, which entered the Lottery with just a 10.4 percent chance at the top pick, will select second overall in the 2013 Draft. The Tulsa Shock owns the third overall selection and Washington, which had the best chance at the No. 1 pick, will select fourth.