2006 Record
18-16, .529
(5th in West)

Points Scored
87.1 ppg (1st overall, 1st in West)
Points Allowed
84.7 ppg (14th overall, 7th in West)
Rebounds Per Game
33.7 (tied for 5th overall, tied for 3rd in West)

Award Winners & Honorees
All-WNBA First Team
Diana Taurasi
All-Rookie Team
Cappie Pondexter
All-Stars
Cappie Pondexter, Diana Taurasi

2006 Draft Recap
Rd. 1 - 2, Cappie Pondexter
Rd. 2 - 18, Liz Shimek (traded to Houston)
Rd. 2 - 21, Mistie Williams (traded to Houston)
Rd. 3 - 32, Crystal Smith

Dispersal Draft Results
Pick 5: Kelly Mazzante

Playoff History
Three out of 10 years
Last Appearance
2000, Lost in First Round

2006 In Review:
What Went Right?

Pondexter
The Mercury was on the rise late last year when Phoenix set a franchise record in winning seven straight games to finish off the year at 18-16. Much of their success can be attributed to offensive firepower. Shooting guard and All-WNBA First Teamer Diana Taurasi led the league in scoring, averaging 25.3 per game. She also topped Phoenix in assists at 4.1 per game, good for fifth overall in the league.

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.

What Went Wrong?

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.

Looking Ahead To 2007:
Key Questions
Miller

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
-Paul Westhead

2006 Starting Lineup
-G- Cappie Pondexter
-G- Diana Taurasi
-F- Kelly Miller
-F- Kamila Vodichkova
-C- Kristen Rasmussen
Key 2006 Reserves
-Jen Derevjanik
-Penny Taylor
-Jennifer Lacy
-Belinda Snell

Key Additions
-Olympia Scott
-Kelly Mazzante
-Kelly Schumacher

Key Losses
-Kamila Vodichkova (pregnancy)
-Kristen Rasmussen
-Ann Strother
-Bridget Pettis
The trade of Ann Strother to the Fever for veteran Olympia Scott should partially address these issues. Having also won the first overall pick in the WNBA Draft, a defensively solid "big" who can keep up in coach Paul Westhead's game plan would go a long way toward improving this squad.

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.