NEW YORK, May 21, 2013 If the WNBAs general managers are accurate prognosticators, the Phoenix Mercury will be taking part in a parade in October. The Mercury, with No. 1 overall draft pick Brittney Griner in the fold, collected 33 percent of the votes as the team most likely to win the WNBA Finals presented by Boost Mobile in the 11th annual WNBA.com GM Survey. The defending Western Conference champion Minnesota Lynx, led by a quartet of All-Stars, was voted as the most fun team to watch (25 percent). These results marked a reversal from a year ago when 83 percent of GMs tabbed the Lynx as eventual champions and 55 percent had cited the Mercury as the most entertaining team.
The complete results of the exclusive survey are posted on WNBA.com in advance of WNBA Tip-Off 2013 presented by Boost Mobile, when the defending champion Indiana Fever and reigning WNBA Finals MVP Tamika Catchings visit the San Antonio Silver Stars Friday, May 24 (8 p.m. ET on NBA TV). Among the other key contests set for opening weekend are two nationally televised games on Monday, May 27 (Memorial Day), when the 3 to See will be on full display. Coverage tips off on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. ET when Skylar Diggins and the Tulsa Shock host the Washington Mystics; that game will be followed by Griner and the Mercury hosting Elena Delle Donnes Chicago Sky on ESPN2 at 5 p.m. ET.
The Sparks Candace Parker, the Fevers Catchings, and the Mercurys duo of Griner and Diana Taurasi figured prominently in a number of categories. Parker, who led all vote-getters as the choice for MVP (42 percent), also was selected as the player with the greatest hunger to win a championship in 2013 (30 percent). Now in her sixth WNBA season, Parker was the only player to receive votes as the best player at all three frontcourt positions, ranking as the No. 2 power forward (36 percent) and center (17 percent), and as the No. 3 small forward. Catchings, the leagues regular season MVP in 2011, was this year chosen by GMs as the best leader among players (67 percent), the toughest player (64 percent), the top power forward (46 percent), and the favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year (42 percent).
An overwhelming favorite to take home the Rookie of the Year honors (75 percent), Griner was voted as the player acquisition that will make the biggest impact (42 percent). She also shared top honors in two categories with a pair of WNBA MVPs, Taurasi (2009) and Catchings (2011). Griner tied for the lead with Taurasi as the player who forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments (25 percent apiece), and along with Catchings was viewed as the player a team would sign first if starting a franchise today (25 percent each).
In the backcourt, the GMs saw Taurasi as the top shooting guard for the fifth straight year (50 percent), and Minnesotas Lindsay Whalen was named the best point guard (67 percent). At the forward spots, the versatile Catchings (46 percent) was selected as the No. 1 power forward and shared the top spot among small forwards with Atlantas Angel McCoughtry (33 percent apiece). Connecticuts Tina Charles captured the vote as the top center (67 percent) and also was selected as the leagues best rebounder (50 percent) and the player with the best post moves (58 percent).
Ten players received votes as the leagues most underrated player, with Indianas Briann January and Washingtons Ivory Latta sharing the top honor (17 percent each).
The New York Libertys Cappie Pondexter was deemed the best at creating her own shot (58 percent) and her crossover dribble was voted as the most effective individual offensive move (55 percent).
The coaching category included a variety of winners. San Antonios Dan Hughes was selected as the coach that best develops young players (58 percent) and Indianas Lin Dunn was voted as the best manager/motivator (42 percent) and the coach who runs the best defense (33 percent). Minnesotas Cheryl Reeve was given the nod as the coach who runs the best offense (42 percent) and Washingtons Mike Thibault was considered to be the coach that makes the best in-game adjustments (33 percent).
The Seattle Storm, despite preparing to play the season without injured All-Stars Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird (the player voted by GMs as the best leader in each of the past five surveys), came out on top in a pair of categories for a second straight year. Seattle was once again voted as the team with the best home court advantage (58 percent) and Storm head coach Brian Agler was named the best head coach in the last two minutes of a close game (50 percent).
Additional leaders in the WNBA.com GM survey included:
Tulsa Shock team that will be most improved (33 percent), edging Washington and Phoenix (25 percent each) Lindsey Harding signing with Los Angeles the most surprising move of the offseason (44 percent), Nicole Powell and Candice Wiggins each joining Tulsa most underrated move of the offseason (20 percent apiece), Kara Lawson, Connecticut Sun active player who would make the best head coach (42 percent) Toni Young, New York Liberty New York Liberty most athletic rookie (42 percent) Tayler Hill, Washington Mystics sleeper rookie most likely to be a success (25 percent) Danielle Robinson, San Antonio Silver Stars player that is fastest with the ball (36 percent) Stephanie White, Indiana Fever the best assistant coach (33 percent)
*Please note - GM Responses were tabulated prior to the May 16, 2013 announcement by the Tulsa Shock that Liz Cambage would be returning to the WNBA.*