(5th in West)
(7th overall, 4th in West)
2235 (4th overall, 3rd
+1.9 (4th overall, 4th in West)
Winners & Honorees
Diana Taurasi, First Team
Rookie of the Year
2004 Draft Recap
1 - 1, Diana Taurasi
Rd. 1 - 8, Chandi Jones
Rd. 2 - 14, Ashley Robinson
3 - 27, Maria Villarroel
Three out of eight years
2000, Lost in First Round
What Went Right?
Engineers of last season's
biggest turnaround, the Mercury turned eight wins into 17 wins last season, but
show no signs of settling for fifth place in the Western Conference again. With
the top pick in the 2004 WNBA Draft, the Mercury took Diana Taurasi and both got
its franchise player and locked up the point guard position for years to come.
Taurasi led the team with 17.0 ppg and 3.9 apg. All in the span of one year, Taurasi
won a National Championship, was the top overall pick in the WNBA Draft and won
an Olympic gold medal.
The future is also bright for fourth-year guard Anna DeForge
, who had
the best season of her career, averaging 14.4 ppg and hit more 3-pointers (70)
than anyone else in the entire league in 2004. She was named to the WNBA All-Star
team that played against the U.S. Olympic Team in The Game at Radio City. In the
2004 Dispersal Draft, the Mercury picked up Penny Taylor
, a veteran member of
the Australian National Team. 13.2 pg and a blistering 42.7% from beyond the arc.
Taurasi, DeForge and Taylor able to put up points in Phoenix, perhaps they do
not need much more post scoring. The Mercury were also one of the league's better
defensive teams and were one of only five teams to have a positive points differential
For all the scoring that the Mercury's backcourt
was able to do, they lacked a consistent scoring and rebounding threat in the
post. Slobodanka Tuvic started 26 games at center, but averaged only 2.8 ppg and
3.7 rpg. In fact, Taylor was the team's leading rebounder with 4.4 per game. Forward
Plenette Pierson had a solid sophomore campaign in Phoenix, but the lack of significant
and sizable depth was the Mercury's undoing. In a conference with Lisa Leslie
and Lauren Jackson dominating the paint every night, big bodies are a requirement.
back-to-back home wins against the Seattle Storm and Los Angeles Sparks in early
September, the Mercury were three games over .500 for the first time all season
and controlled their own playoff destiny, but their season-long road woes reared
again and the Mercury dropped the next four games and dropped out of the playoff
race down the stretch. As the team matures under second-year coach Carrie Graf,
winning away from home will be fundamental to their success.
2004 Starting Lineup
G- Diana Taurasi
G- Anna DeForge
F- Plenette Pierson
C- Slobodanka Tuvic
Key 2004 Reserves
Ahead To 2005:
Just how good can Taurasi be? She was the unquestioned leader of
the team as a rookie, but her potential is limitless. Will her productivity be
even greater when the Mercury develop an inside-outside threat?
With the possibility
of Russian National Team center Maria Stepanova's return to the team always looming,
no team was in greater need of an interior scoring presence before they signed
center Kamila Vodichkova away from Seattle in early March. Will Vodichkova be
the inside scoring presence that the Mercury so need? Finally, what other moves
will Mercury G.M. Seth Sulka make to deepen his bench?