Finishing the 2019 season with a 15-19 record, the Phoenix Mercury qualified for the WNBA Playoffs for a third straight season. Despite being eliminated in Round 1, the Mercury battled through adversity and look to come back even stronger in 2020.
Considering this, let’s take a look back at the Mercury’s 2019 season in review.
Leaders: Points (Griner, 20.7); Rebounds (Bonner, 7.6); Assists (Mitchell, 4.0); Steals (Bonner, 1.3); Blocks (Griner, 2.0)
Since entering the league in 2013, Brittney Griner has established herself as one of the most dominant players in WNBA history. This past season, Griner led the league in points (20.7) and blocks (2.0) per game. As a result of her strong play, Griner was named a WNBA All-Star for the sixth time in her career and received a spot on the All-WNBA First Team for the second time (2019, 2014). An established and successful veteran in the league, Griner has increased her productivity year after year and has shown no signs of slowing down, which bodes well for the Mercury moving forward.
Most Improved Player
For the Mercury in 2019, one of the biggest storylines was the breakout season from 11-year veteran Leilani Mitchell. After averaging 4.4 PPG, 2.3 APG, and 1.4 RPG in 2018, Mitchell erupted for career-highs in all three categories in 2019, averaging 12.8 PPG, 4.0 APG, and 3.0 RPG. Mitchell’s emergence helped her earn the 2019 WNBA Most Improved Player Award, which put her in an exclusive category as the only player in WNBA history to win MIP twice in their career, having previously taken home the honor in 2010.
After undergoing back surgery for a disc protrusion in April, Diana Taurasi played in just six games for the Mercury in 2019. Although Taurasi tried to work her way back onto the court for the Playoffs, the Mercury were eliminated in Round 1, and Taurasi did not play due to injury. A 15-year veteran in the league, Taurasi is one of the most decorated players in WNBA history as a 3x WNBA Champion, 2x WNBA Finals MVP, 9x WNBA All-Star and 13x All-WNBA recipient. Taurasi also holds a variety of league records, including most career points (8,575), field goals made (2,725) and 3-point field goals made (1,103). Losing one of the greatest players of all-time for the entire season proved difficult for the Mercury to overcome. On a positive note, it appears that Taurasi will be back for her 16th season in 2020.
In 2020, the Mercury will return much of the same roster, with the biggest addition being the return of a healthy Diana Taurasi. Head coach Sandy Brondello will return for her sixth season, having been under the helm since the 2014 season, the last time Phoenix won a title. The Mercury will also return 2019 scoring champion Griner as well as Dewanna Bonner, who has averaged 17+ PTS and 7+ REB per game over the past two seasons. Along with an already strong core of talent, the Mercury hold the No. 5 overall selection in the WNBA Draft 2020, which puts them in prime position to land a top prospect.