Gaines to Represent Mercury at Draft Lottery
Phoenix Mercury Head Coach and General Manger Corey Gaines will represent the team at the 2013 WNBA Draft Lottery to be held for the first time in Bristol, Conn. The Lottery will be broadcast on Wednesday, Sept. 26 during ESPN’s 6 p.m. ET (3 p.m. PT) edition of SportsCenter.
The Mercury owns a 27.6 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft, the second-best odds in this year’s Lottery. The Washington Mystics hold the best chance at 44.2 percent; the Tulsa Shock will have 17.8 percent chance and the Chicago Sky owns a 10.4 percent chance.
The Mercury will make its first appearance in the Draft Lottery since 2009 when it selected DeWanna Bonner with the fifth overall selection. Phoenix went on to win the WNBA title that season. Bonner went on to be named WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year in three consecutive seasons, and this season is an MVP candidate as the league’s second-leading scorer.
The franchise has twice owned the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft. In 2004 the club selected Diana Taurasi with top pick and in 2007 the Mercury traded the first pick (Lindsey Harding) to Minnesota in exchange for stretch-center Tangela Smith. The 6-3 veteran helped the Mercury to two WNBA championships, proving to be a missing piece in Paul Westhead’s up-tempo offensive system.
This season the Mercury will miss 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.
After reaching the Western Conference Finals in four of the last five seasons, the Mercury roster was decimated by injury this season. Three-time All-Star and two-time Olympian Penny Taylor suffered a torn ACL prior to the start of the season that has kept her out for all of 2012, Taurasi played just eight games this season, missing 17 games with a hip flexor injury, and Candice Dupree missed 21 games with a left knee injury. Those three players combined for 52.9 points per game last season. In all, the Mercury has seen 99 games missed due to injury this season from nine different players. Comparatively, Phoenix players missed a combined 95 games in the last seven seasons combined.
With Dupree and recently healed Samantha Prahalis back in action, the Mercury hosts the Seattle Storm today in its season finale. Tipoff is at noon PT and will be nationally televised on ESPN2. The Mercury will wear pink uniforms as part of the league’s Breast Health Awareness initiative. Tickets are still available by calling 602-252-WNBA or visiting phoenixmercury.com.