Phoenix Mercury Season Preview
The addition of No. 1 pick Brittney Griner has Mercury fans thinking WNBA title.
Christian Petersen/NBAE/Getty Images
Phoenix Mercury point guard Samantha Prahalis, about to start her second WNBA season, has the right kind of problems.
That sounds precisely like the kind of "tough" the rest of the league would love to deal with, as the 2013 Mercury resemble more video game roster than WNBA team.
To tell the whole story of this year, however, is to know the story of last season. In what was a, well, troublesome campaign for the Mercury -- one that saw marquee players Diana Taurasi miss 26 games, Candice Dupree miss 21 and Penny Taylor miss the entire season -- the Mercury (7-27) found themselves in an unfamiliar position at season's end: the Draft Lottery.
Luckily for them, not only did the 2013 WNBA Draft feature three game-changing, potentially generation-defining prospects, but one of those players -- Brittney Griner -- is unlike any talent the women's game has seen. Ever.
So, with the 6-foot-8 Griner entering the fold and Taurasi, Taylor and Dupree again joining forces with DeWanna Bonner, the second leading scorer in the WNBA last season, and Prahalis, who led all rookies in assists in 2012, the Mercury appear to be without weakness.
“There’s a different energy in the city and around the arena,” Taurasi told PhoenixMercury.com. “It’s exciting and we players can definitely feel it. Now it’s our job to work as hard as we can to justify it.”
If the team performs anything like it looks on paper, they should justify it with ease. Griner's inside presence will turn a normally pedestrian team on the defensive end into a formidable one, and on the offensive end, where Gaines famously likes to push the ball, he will have Griner's rebounding and shot-blocking ability to spark the break.
"My mentor, Paul Westhead, who won a championship with the Lakers and a championship in the WNBA -- the only man to do that. The good thing about his offense and his style is it adjusts to the players you have. Period," Gaines said. "You have a certain kind of player, you adjust to that."
Griner is a one-of-a-kind player. And, in what has been the biggest revelation coming out of Mercury camp thus far, she appears very capable of running the floor with her teammates.
Yes, imagine that. Griner running the break, flanked by Taurasi and Bonner with Taylor trailing.
Which gets you to thinking, who will Prahalis pass to?
1. DeWanna Bonner (20.6)
2. Diana Taurasi (14.0)
3. Candice Dupree (13.2)
1. Krystal Thomas (8.0)
2. DeWanna Bonner (7.2)
3. Avery Warley (5.7)
1. Samantha Prahalis (4.5)
2. Diana Taurasi (2.3)
3. DeWanna Bonner (2.2)