The Phoenix Mercury made it official Monday night: Baylor Bears senior center Brittney Griner is the teams newest member courtesy of the 2013 WNBA Draft. There was little doubt on this years No. 1 Overall pick was going to be used on Griner. She is a special player with the chance to be one of the best ever to play in the WNBA.

This is a Mercury team that, seemingly overnight, has become must watch television.

"Now that I can say her name, Brittney Griner, she is definitely a player that is going to change the game as we know it today," stated a very stoic and very elated Head Coach Corey Gaines.

At the Hotel Palomar in downtown Phoenix the Mercury welcomed hundreds of fans to come and view the the historic event live.

MC Kip Helt kicked off the festivities that included (at the time) the newest member of the Mercury Erin Thorn, last years No. 6 Overall pick Samantha Prahalis, Krystal Thomas, Bridget Pettis, Kayte Christensen, Amber Cox (via satellite), and Ann Meyers-Drysdale. The team rewarded the fans for being the fans.

Griner enters the fold with a litany of talent, all-stars, champions, and gold medal winners. She comes in as the rookie and looks like she has the humility and humbleness to make that transition with ease.

"I think in college, as you just saw her interview when she got drafted, she was saying how she wants to learn more things," Gaines on Griner's potential. "She is going to make Diana (Taurasi) better and Diana is going to make her better. I think pick-and-roll, moving around the lane will make her, offensively, better."

She comes in as the tallest player in the WNBA now officially at 6-8 locking down the center position for the Mercury for the future playing with the likes of Diana Taurasi, Penny Taylor, DeWanna Bonner, and Candice Dupree. This is a Mercury team that, seemingly overnight, has become must watch television.


The Phoenix Suns play their final home game of the season tonight, putting an end to this season's misery for Suns tickets holders - the lifeblood of a franchise that's bleeding out by the day.

Guaranteed their second worst season in history, is there anything to play for tonight? Is there any intrigue for a viewer, any reason to even check the scoreboard let alone watch the game?

Why yes there is!

Here are a few of those reasons...

Lottery Positioning - Suns

The Suns can finish no worse than fourth in lotto ball standings but are currently "fighting" with Cleveland for that third spot. Both team are playing as bad as possible in the final weeks. It's a (bleeding) neck-and-neck race with both teams sporting the same 24-56 record. If each lose their last two games, then a coin flip will decide their draft order UNLESS one of them moves up in the lottery.

It's worth noting that the #4 seed in the lottery has never won the #1 pick with the ping-pong balls.

Yet, that's what makes tonight's game a conundrum. With the Rockets fighting for playoff positioning, it's almost better for the Suns to WIN tonight. Why? Because then the Rockets will REALLY have to beat the Lakers on Wednesday. If Rockets lose out and the Lakers win that game, the Rockets would be dropped to 8th and would have to face OKC in the opening round.

If the Rockets win Wednesday night (regardless of tonight) they will keep the 6th or 7th spot AND (if Utah wins out) possibly bump the Lakers out of the playoffs and send their #14 pick over to the Suns this spring. Otherwise, the Suns get the Heat's #30 pick. Quite a difference.

Check out the Lottery Watch story by Sean on Sunday, which discusses all the possibilities.

Playoff Positioning - Rockets

As mentioned already, the Rockets are in a heated battle with Golden State for the #6 seed in the playoffs. But they are also in danger of ending up #8, behind the Lakers, if they lose both games this week.

Both the Rockets and Warriors have a 45-35 record heading into their final two games, just one win ahead of the Lakers (44-37). The #8 seed will most likely face OKC, with the #7 seed most likely playing San Antonio while the #6 seed gets Denver.

If the Rockets lose tonight, they HAVE to beat LA on Wednesday to avoid the #8 seed and a likely drubbing by OKC. Why not turn up the heat on them, you know?

Assuming the Rockets want the #6 seed, they need to win out to be assured of it.

A perfect scenario for the Suns and the Rockets, is to have the Rockets lose tonight and win Wednesday in LA. That would put the Rockets at #7 (assuming GS and Utah win at least 1 game) to face a hobbled San Antonio team in round one while the Suns get a second lotto pick and the Lakers go on summer vacation. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

The Rockets winning tonight and losing Wednesday also assures them of the 7th, but that scenario puts LA in the playoffs. Let's ignore that scenario for the moment.

Addiction - Suns fans

After tonight, we won't see the Suns in their home uniforms again for more than 5 months. As bad as the team has been playing, it's better than nothing at all. You know what I mean?

Sure, you're reading this and itching to pop down to the comment section to say "no it's not better than nothing at all! I'd rather watch paint dry!". But no matter how bad the team is, it's still the Suns and there's still a loyalty to the team. Sure, maybe we're watching to see how bad it will get - like watching a car wreck - but we're still, for the most part, watching.

Those of you no longer watching games are still coming to BSotS most days to check on the latest news and comment threads about the team.

We are diehards. We are Suns fans. Five months without games will be torture.

The Last Matchup

The Rockets won last week's game in real cheesy fashion - badly missing but getting credit for a game-winning three-pointer by applying a hex to Jermaine O'Neal's body and making him jump into the net while the ball was still in the cylinder.

Any chance the Suns want payback tonight?

Not likely, but it's sure worth at least a moment's consideration.

The Last Word

I went to a silent auction fundraiser on Saturday night. There were about 60 items to bid on, ranging from a value of $30 to $500 and only about 80 attendees.

One of the items up for bid was an autographed portrait of Luis Scola in Suns home uni. The minimum bid was $40. NO ONE BID ON IT (including me). It was one of only two items in the entire auction without a single bid. Poor Luis.

Frankly, I can see why no one bid on it. Not only are the Suns bad, but Scola has only been in town for a year and is not likely to spend many years on the Suns. He's not good looking and isn't doing any local promos.

If the portrait had been of Goran Dragic or Jared Dudley, I could see bids being placed. Even I might have bid on it. Those guys are cemented in Suns fans hearts from the 2010 playoff run and years in Suns unis.

As it is, Luis Scola only represents the worst Suns team in most of our lifetimes. As I said, even I couldn't make myself bid on it. (Instead I bid on a Whiskey basket and Starbucks basket).

That right there is an indication of what's wrong with the Suns - their best chance of selling an autographed pic is Goran Dragic and Jared Dudley, neither of whom is an All-Star.

That's all I got, folks.

Check out The Dream Shake for more on the Rockets and their fans' intentions for this game.

Time: 7 p.m. MST TV: FSAZ Tonight will be a busy night of basketball viewing for Phoenix Suns’ fans. At 7 p.m. MST, the Suns will play their final home game of the year. They take on the Houston...

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The season-ending and career-threatening tear to Kobe Bryant’s left Achilles tendon — a complete tear, at that — certainly affects the Phoenix Suns’ 2013 draft lottery odds....

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On his weekly call-in to KTAR, err arizonasports 620, Phoenix Suns interim head coach Lindsey Hunter was asked why he's had such a tough time shoring up the Suns defense. Hunter replied that they have had to spend a surprising amount of time on basics, rather than fine-tuning.

"One of the things in particular is that guys didn't understand the strong side and weak side," Hunter said to Burns and Gambo. "The strong side is where the ball is, and the weak side is where the ball isn't. If I turn and go the other way, then I become the weak side.

"I see why sometimes we don't rotate the right way, it's because we don't understand the difference between the strong side and weak side."

Wow. How is this even possible, that guys don't know a difference like that? You learn that pretty young, I believe.

The radio guys periodically went back to this story on Friday, Doug Franz even calling his elementary school daughters (who answered the question wrong too) and suggested a potential motivation for Hunter to say something so unbelievable was to make himself look better.

Hunter has no filters, doesn't know what's right to say and what's wrong to say. He's just a guy trying to coach a team, and when they're playing bad he's not afraid to say why. Even if it means throwing his players under a bus.

Whether he's trying to make himself look better, I doubt it. He's not really cared what the media think. He knows that fans are frustrated with him mainly because of the results, and that they will be back when the team is winning again. He's not Alvin Gentry, who garnered media and fan loyalty even in a losing situation.

Part of the reason fans loved Gentry was because he coached the last winning Suns team. The same would be true of any coach. If the Suns are winning and Hunter is this honest, fans will call it endearing and refreshing. But when the Suns are losing and Hunter is this honest, fans call it annoying and disrespectful.

I digress. Back to the strong-side/weak-side revelation.

Maybe Hunter is just cluing us in to the realities of coaching kids who came up through the AAU circuit and weren't taught as many basics as we might think.

When I heard the interview, it sounded to me that Hunter was talking about the live-action nuances of having to recognize as quickly as possible when you change from strong to weak. All it takes is the ball swinging away from your side of the court. When a player passes cross-court, the positioning and rotation you were just executing changes on a dime. Now you're defending the weak side. Then the ball gets popped into the middle and you have to decide - did I just become a strong-side defender or am I still a weak-side defender?

But I'm not a coach, so I enlisted the help of a fellow media member, Randy Hill, who has coached and developed players for decades in California and Arizona. Hill has made observations all season from the little that the media is allowed to see.

I didn't hear the interview with Lindsey, but reading the text and having talked with him about Xs and Os in general leads me to believe his frustration has more to do with certain players not comprehending what strong-weak adjustments should be made in the immediate aftermath of ball reversals, dribble penetration, blitz-type action when the Suns go "black' on PNR, etc.

Hill, guessing that the biggest focus of BSotS readers would be on Beasley and the Morri, went on to say that Bill Self (Kansas) and Frank Martin (K-State) would have drilled the concept of "strong" and "weak" sides in college just fine, but that every defensive system has different reaction to each action.

Hill went on to say that Hunter's defensive scheme is a lot different than the system under Alvin Gentry, and that Hunter appears to have more of a defensive plan than the previous regime.

I do know the pack-line-style defense he's attempting to implement in the middle of the season has significantly different rules for help responsibilities than the (cough) system the Suns used before Alvin left the building. According to some of the more experienced Suns, Hunter does spend considerably more practice minutes attempting to install these concepts.

Alvin Gentry's staff spent more time on offense, and less time on positioning and footwork of the defense. The Suns organization has never been a defensive juggernaut, and Gentry didn't really attempt to change that perception.

When I asked a veteran perimeter player if these things were drilled in training camp, the player said he didn't really know -- bigs and guards rarely worked on specific defensive maneuvers on the same end of the floor.

We can debate ad nauseum the merits of completely changing a defensive scheme mid-season, but it is what it is. The Suns were one of the worst defensive teams in the league the last few years, so I can see why Hunter might want to scrap what they used to do.

With the younger guys, that's apparently been a battle. We've observed the fight between Hunter and Michael Beasley, and Hunter and Marcus Morris. There have probably been others that didn't leak to the media, but we can note that Markieff Morris - while still out of position a lot - has garnered more minutes in the past month than either his brother or SuperCool. Kieff seems to have committed.

Hunter is holding them accountable, and basing playing time more on their focus and effort in practice than we might think is warranted.

The results are poor, that's for sure. But Hunter did have the Suns at 8-13 before Marcin Gortat went down to injury and Jermaine O'Neal started missing time. It's tough to implement Hunter's defense without a post, rim-protecting presence down low and without a committed rotation to the coach's schemes.

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