Place In Standings: Third
Points Per Game: 83.8
Points Against: 85.4
Coming into this stretch of games there was a very good chance the injured, short-handed, and inconsistent Phoenix Mercury could have fallen into a downward spiral. At this point the team is in a spiral, but knocking off the Los Angeles Sparks on the road was a testament of how good this team can be.
With their backs against the wall Diana Taurasi (32 points 7 rebounds 6 assists 15-17 FT) and the Mercury put together a win when failure was not an option.
Sure, the team is locked into the third seed in the Western Conference now and for the foreseeable future with the way the teams below them are playing. They have some security. But that security means nothing when the playoffs begin and the Minnesota Lynx are an impossible mountain to climb and the Sparks are as tough as they come. The Mercury have Championship potential and, when fully healthy, can compete and defeat any team in the league.
It was a good sign seeing the Mercury play tough with the Sparks the Lynx, closing out the former, but still struggling with the latter. Gaining (creating) some consistency and figuring out the rotation to a machine like nature are the next steps for this team in the progression towards reaching their potential.
In lieu of waiving Samantha Prahalis the Mercury signed Jasmine James, former University of Georgia guard that was selected by the Seattle Storm in the third round of this years draft. She played just one pre-season game with the Storm where she collected 4 points 2 assists and 2 steals in 14 minutes.
At Georgia, James never showed a proficiency shooting the ball, which is one of the team needs, but can be a facilitator and distribute the ball. She brings the Mercury roster to 11 and will be the third point guard behind Taurasi and Alexis Hornbuckle.
When talking about the Mercury's potential as a team it should become obvious when looking at the All-Star Game this year. Of the five Western Conference starters they all come from the Lynx (Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore), Mercury (Taurasi and Brittney Griner), and Sparks (Candace Parker). They have the talent and the star power on the court.
Looking at Griner specifically, she was voted as a starter and will be on the court with No. 2 Overall pick Elena Della Donne. Both rookies have been fantastic this year and could form a competitive rivalry over the next 7-10 years in the WNBA.
Right now it is arguable that either Taurasi or Della Donne is the MVP of the league at this point in the season. Should make for an interesting game with unique individual battles.
Wednesday @ Minnesota Lynx at 10am AZ Time
Saturday ALL-STAR GAME at 12:30pm AZ Time