To start the 2010-2011 NBA season the Miami Heat came in with unparalleled expectations thanks to a roster that could not be rivaled by even the best video game trade artists. They deconstructed the roster to create a "Big Three" featuring All-NBA talent in their physical prime.

It was not pretty to start. The Heat began their run with a loss and stalled out of the gates with an unassuming 9-8 beginning to the new regime of hired guns. That debut included an offensive misfire as the Heat scored 80 points, a feat that would only be dubiously topped one more time that season. They had to get their bearings.

The team took a while to get used to playing with each other. After all, the "Big Three" were all used to being "Big Individuals" with their previous teams and the roster was not put together organically, rather overnight in a lab with a master chemist.

Now flash forward to the 2013 Phoenix Mercury and there is a team that can be put on that pedestal in terms of overall talent, but one that was put together more organically.

It took the Heat about 30 games to get their rhythm and feel for each other, which in WNBA terms translates to a full season meaning that the team has less time to figure it all out. However for the Mercury they did not have the luxury of a training camp or elongated pre-season before the season. It was meet and greet, exhibition against Japan, and then time for the bright lights.

They created a "super team" on the backs of Diana Taurasi, DeWanna Bonner, Penny Taylor, Candice Dupree, and rookie phenom Brittney Griner.

Throughout Taurasi's career she has been the go-to player from college to the WNBA to the Olympics. Bonner became a star last year in Taurasi's absence. Griner was the alpha in college for four years winning a National Championship and playing in two Final Fours. They were stars individually and know have to meld together to make this a Championship team, because, on paper, they have the talent to beat any team on any given night.

Early on the team struggled, you guessed it, on the offensive end as they did not know how to get out of their own way playing too passively with each other.

Now, five games into a 34 game season, the Mercury are getting a feel for how to play with each other. After Friday nights 97-81 win over the Los Angeles Sparks the team has won two in a row, both games over playoff teams just a season ago.

We changed what we were doing the first three games and I took the blame for that. I was trying to do something we weren't familiar with and it is hard trying to put everything on one person (Griner) rather than what we had and just do. -- Head Coach Corey Gaines

Couple that with the recent 82-67 win over the WNBA Champion Indiana Fever and the Mercury are trending in the right direction.

The game swayed in the third quarter with the three-point shot. Taurasi hit three after three finishing the game with five long balls on her own as the team nailed nine total -- seven in the second half. This season as Coach Gaines alluded to was the Mercury trying to do something they were not used to as a team. He wants the team to get back to the quick hitting style that keeps opponents on their heels while opening up more opportunities for the offense to score.


That quick hitting style was inefficient in the first half as the team shot 43.6% (17-39) from the field and 15.4% (2-13) from three. The second half was a different story as they shot 57.5% (19-33) from the field and 58.3% (7-12) from three.

Taurasi is not going to have 34 points 7 rebounds and 6 assists every game. That is reality. But if she can have these occasional flashbacks of brilliance with the added punch of Bonner's 23 points 12 rebounds and Griner's 10 points 6 rebounds and four blocks this team is not going to lose many games going forward.

It has not been an easy start to the season though as the Mercury are still waiting for Taylor to get back on the floor while dealing with other nagging injuries and even a suspension. Griner is on a minute limit after getting hurt early in the season while Samantha Prahalis has not been playing well early on. Dupree had to serve a one game suspension and through all that they have come together as a team to get back on track.

Building momentum and great team cohesion takes time and patience. That is what the Mercury are doing in this slow burn to greatness.

There is always a spot in the game where you get into a groove and it is like '15 points just like that.' It is real quick, but you have to be ballsy enough to do it. You can't be scared. You have to take the chance. What is the worst thing that could happen? You'll miss. What is the best thing that can happen? You can make a big run... -- Coach Gaines on shooting with confidence

It took the Heat about 30 games to get it and once they did they were able to book back-to-back-to-back NBA Finals appearances including this year as they try to win a second straight. Is that the direction the Mercury are heading towards with this slow burn to greatness and a new WNBA "super team" for the future?

As I opened up my Sports Illustrated this week, I was prepared to be disappointed with a hockey cover and a teased NBA feature on the San Antonio Spurs. However, along with that I was treated to Jack...

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Strengths If there were a time or a place to toss around clich├ęs in an overt manner, any discussion about Giannis Adetokunbo would be the time and the place. That’s because outside of scouting...

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Since the Phoenix Suns are once again sitting out the NBA Finals, and the entire playoffs for that matter, we here at Bright Side thought we'd revisit that glorious Finals run twenty years ago, game by game. Take a walk through yesteryear with us to watch the Suns come thisclose to winning an NBA Championship.

After taking a 2-0 lead in the 1993 NBA Finals, you can imagine why the Bulls might take a night off. Why they might lose their edge a bit. But this Bulls team didn't. Michael Jordan poured in 44 points and Scottie Pippen came up one assist shy of a triple-double while the Bulls put up 121 loss in a loss.

The Phoenix Suns just came out a tiny bit scrappier, desperate for a win and a reprieve in the Finals. They took an 11 point lead in the fourth, only to see Chicago tie it up. It took three overtimes to close out the Bulls, but the Suns squeaked out a 129-121 win.

Charles Barkley collected 24 points and 19 rebounds, while Dan Majerle hit a then-Finals-record 6 three-pointers on the way to 28 points. This game makes you wonder what could have been for Richard Dumas, who put up 17 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals as a rookie. Too bad that was aided by illicit drugs that eventually killed his NBA career (admitted by Dumas).


After hosting 50 players in 8 days before taking the next few days to re-assess and re-evaluate, the Phoenix Suns announced yesterday that they will hold two more NBA Draft prospect workouts in the coming days. Players will come to the Valley on Saturday and Tuesday, with names being announced just as the workouts starts.

The Phoenix Suns still hold the #5, #30 and #57 picks in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Despite hosting so many players already, there were some notable omissions. I will be very curious to see if McDonough is using these last two workouts to fill in those blanks, or to bring back some players for a second look.

NOTE: The Suns brought in 50+ players already. For the sake of brevity, I am only noting the first-round prospects here. Lots of second-rounders hit the Suns practice floor as well.

Point Guards

Visited: Trey Burke, Michael Carter-Williams, C.J. McCollum (candidates for #5 pick), Shane Larkin (mid-first), Ray McCallum, Erick Green, Nate Wolters (candidates for #30)

NOT Visited: Dennis Schroeder

Schroeder is the only PG prospect not to walk through that door at US Airways Arena this month. He worked out for a few teams late in June and then suddenly returned to Germany to wait out the draft. Rumor has it he got a promise in the late lottery.

Note that the Suns have seen every PG they can see, despite having Dragic and Marshall already on the roster.

Shooting Guards

Visited: Victor Oladipo, Ben McLemore, Shabazz Muhammad (candidates for #5 pick), Reggie Bullock, Archie Goodwin, Ricky Ledo (candidates for #30 pick)

NOT Visited: Jamaal Franklin, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Allen Crabbe

Franklin, a candidate in the 10-20 range, had an injury keeping him from working out for any teams until this week. Pope is also a 10-20 range guy. If the Suns bring them in, then you know they are still considering adding another first-round pick because they will be gone by #30. If the #5 pick turns out to be a C, then Franklin or Pope would be a nice consolation prize at the SG position in that scenario. Crabbe is a late-first, early second guy. Not sure why he hasn't visited yet.

Small Forwards

Visited: Muhammad (candidate for #5 pick), Tony Snell (candidate for #30)

NOT Visited: Otto Porter (candidate for #5 pick), Sergey Karasev, Dario Saric, Giannis Antetokounpo

Porter has refused to visit any team lower than #3, fueling speculation that he has assurances he won't drop further. Karasev reportedly got a mid-first promise and returned to Europe. Saric returned to Europe without a promise, and will definitely not play in the NBA in 2013-14. He may pull from the draft entirely. The Greek kid is playing in Europe, and was scouted by new Asst GM Pat Connolly this week. All these guys will likely be gone by #30.

Power Forwards

Visited: Anthony Bennett (candidate for #5 pick), Tony Mitchell, Jackie Carmichael, C.J. Leslie, Dwayne Davis (candidates for #30)

NOT Visited: Livio Jean-Charles (on the first round bubble)

Not much to see here. The power forward depth this year is weak, though you could argue that Nerlens Noel and Mason Plumlee could play PF in the NBA.


Visited: Alex Len (candidate for top-5 pick), Rudy Gobert, Cody Zeller, Mason Plumlee (all in the 7-20 range)

NOT Visited: Nerlens Noel, Steven Adams, Kelly Olynyk, Jeff Withey, Gorgui Dieng, Lucas Nogueira, Mike Muscala

Noel refuses, so far, to visit anyone outside the top two, though the Suns have been inquiring. Noguiera was scouted over in Europe in the past week by Pat Connolly. Not a whiff on the others.

Looks like the Suns are picking and choosing their favorites here, more than any other position. Those who have visited are athletically gifted players who can protect the rim and/or rebound at a high rate. Three of the four have a ceiling as quality NBA starting center, while the fourth (Plumlee) profiles as a rotation-type PF/C. Those not invited are more traditional backup center prospects with limited upside.

What do with that mythical second lotto pick?

Unless more centers are brought in this weekend, it appears that if the Suns draft a shooting guard at #5 AND acquire another lottery pick their only big-man targets are Plumlee, Zeller, Gobert and possibly Nogueira.

If they draft a center at #5 AND acquire a second lottery pick, it appears their only lotto-range "small" target is a point guard, Shabazz Muhammad or possibly the Greek kid Giannis Antetokounpo.

More workouts coming

But again, there are more workouts scheduled, on Saturday and Tuesday. Look for the Suns to bring in more mid-first wing prospects for a look-see, and possibly more mid-to-late-first center prospects.

Clearly, Noel and Porter are the biggest no-shows, since they are projected in the top-5 of a Draft that the Suns hold that 5th pick. It's possible they will visit Phoenix in the next 13 days, but only if they believe their stock is dropping far enough.

Other than those two, it's interesting that the Suns have seen Gobert and Plumlee but not Steven Adams or any other C prospect in the same range.

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