Penny Taylor: Still an Unsung Superstar

By Ben York, Special to
Posted: June 27, 2011

If Penny Taylor reads this (there is a 99.9 percent chance she wonít; she certainly isnít one to actively search for articles written about her) sheíd likely blush. After all, deflecting credit has, to some extent, been her mantra over the years. For Taylor, being the center of attention is simply not her thing; sheíd much rather talk about the team as a whole and shrugs off the majority of the accolades sheís received. Itís not that she doesnít care about them; itís just that she is so team-oriented that individual accomplishments donít mean anything unless theyíre for the greater good.

There is an unmistakable, gentle quietness to Taylor that fans can identify with. She doesnít possess an ounce of arrogance and constantly maintains a light-hearted, sincere personality. Sheís unassuming, but in a good way. In fact, she has previously said that she hasnít joined Twitter because she doesnít feel sheíd have anything interesting to say. And while thousands of Mercury fans politely disagree, this humbleness and selflessness are major reasons why the X-Factor loves her. But with the stellar season Taylor is having so far, itís now becoming increasingly hard for fans and followers of the WNBA outside of Phoenix to overlook her. Averaging 17.3 ppg, 6.4 apg, and 5.6 rpg while shooting 52 percent from the floor, Taylor should be an early favorite for MVP.

In fact, she isnít that far off from the esteemed 50-40-90 club which means a player shoots at least 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent from beyond the arc, and 90 percent from the free-throw line. To date, Taylor is at 52 percent shooting, 38 percent from three-point land, and 85 percent from the charity stripe. To give you an idea of how difficult this feat is, since the NBA introduced the three-point field goal in the 1979-80 season, only five players have reached the 50-40-90 mark. Though, if you look at her career numbers, itís amazing that she doesnít get this type of recognition every year.

She has always been an underrated rebounder but what really stands out is her ability to be a threat in multiple ways from an offensive standpoint. Not only is she a prolific shooter from anywhere on the court, her vision and playmaking ability have her second only to Becky Hammon in assists this season.

As we enter an age where getting attention rests heavily on flashiness, Taylor continues an old-school mentality of going all-out on every play. Itís hard to see the Mercury winning the 2007 and 2009 WNBA Championships without her tenacity and toughness. Taylorís drives to the basket are beautifully aggressive, her ability to stop and pop on a dime is textbook, and her precision-passing is largely unrecognized.


Much of this is because of the stoic, peaceful and kind demeanor I mentioned above. Sheís not a talker on the court and isnít out to embarrass her opponent; thatís just not how she plays the game. Her expressions on the court remain unchanged regardless of if the team is up by 30 or down by 30.

Inside, however, there is a competitive fire that will forever remain lit.

For Taylor, if being an MVP-candidate comes with a championship, so be it. But garnering individual attention without it leading toward the betterment of the team isnít something that interests her. For that alone, sheíll always have my respect.

In the end, Taylor will be appreciative of those who attempt to get her the credit she deserves; not because she thinks she deserves the notoriety but because people went to bat for her. Thatís what means something to Taylor, individual labels and honors. She just wants to win and be a good teammate.

Seems like a good plan to me.