Last season the Phoenix Mercury were outclassed in the playoffs by the eventual champions, the Seattle Storm. This season the Mercury have a lot of off-season work to do in order to make it back to the top.
Every year that Diana Taurasi plays in the WNBA, her team is going to be a threat. Fortunately for Mercury fans her team is going to be Phoenix until either her mind or body lose that competitive fire. I am not sure either is going to happen soon.
This offseason the Mercury need to re-sign some of their starters and some key bench pieces. Here are a list of players who are coming back to the Mercury.
Brittney Griner – One of the best big players in the game, Griner is entering the final season of her contract. She is so dominant that she is always at the top of the league in both blocks, rebounds and points per game. Having her on the team is crucial for the success of the Mercury moving forward.
Marie Gulich – Signed primarily as the backup for Griner, Gulich did not play much last season. There is hope for her development as a center but as long as she is backing up Griner, she will not see a huge amount of court time.
Camille Little – Only started seven games last season. The stats only ever tell about a quarter of the story for Little. She is a defensive stopper who has limited range offensively. When you have Griner, DeWanna Bonner and Diana Taurasi on the squad, this is not a problem,
Leilani Mitchell – Did not start a game last season, was a offesive light off the bench. Saw her role decrease with the team thanks to the acquisition of Briann January last offseason. Still with two years left to run on her contract, Mitchell will continue to provide quality minutes off the bench.
Diana Taurasi – Despite being one of the most divisive players in the league, there is no doubting the greatness of Taurasi.
As I mentioned in the intro, any team with Taurasi on it cannot be discounted. Will be looking to add to her win totals and as a result will continue to build on her individual records.
Free agents to be re-signed
The Mercury have seven players who are off contract this season. Not all of them will be re-signed as the Mercury have shown a propensity to change their roster over the last few seasons. They have just over $500,000 in cap space.
DeWanna Bonner – At the top of any general managers list of players they would want to sign is Bonner. Offensively she is a nightmare for oppositions, whether it is taking the three from a ridiculous distance or using her exceptionally long body to get inside, Bonner is a matchup nightmare. For the Mercury to be at the pointy end of the WNBA this season, Bonner is a must.
Briann January – Prior to last season the Mercury were a not known for their perimeter defense, despite having Danielle Robinson on the team. They traded for January and were not let down at all. She is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. January also has a cool head on offense and shot the 3-ball at an insane 47 percent.
Stephanie Talbot – The Australian swiss army knife is an often under-rated player for the Mercury. While her box score impact may be inconsistent, Talbot has a high defensive acumen and is not afraid to get down and dirty. She will do what the team needs and is fast becoming a tremendous glue player.
Unlikely to be re-signed
Sancho Lyttle – While she did start all the games she played last season, Lyttle missed the entire second half through injury. She also missed the playoff run where the Mercury looked awesome. Lyttle is a good player but will the Mercury want more for the $108,000 they paid last season.
Devereaux Peters – After being signed to a rest of season contract, Peters played only five game and was used sparingly. Seems likely to be the first cut
Angel Robinson – Apart from the time when Griner was injured, Robinson has been used irregularly. Her minutes will likely be taken up with another free agent signing or a draft pick.
Yvonne Turner – If this was at the end of the 2018 season, Turner would have been on the to be re-signed list. Unfortunately her star fell last season and was not efficient enough to warrant a spot with the level of talent which is coming into the league this year.
The Mercury have not been afraid to turn their roster over in the past couple of seasons. They will move the earth to keep a couple of players but will be on the lookout for the final piece which will take them back to the finals.