- Michelle Smith, Contributor, espnW.com
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From last place to a title contender in nine months.
Expectations are sky-high for the Mercury with Brittney Griner on the floor and Diana Taurasi, Penny Taylor and Candice Dupree healthy and back to run Corey Gaines' full-speed, high-octane scheme.
While there was much to forget about last season's 7-27 campaign, there are a couple of important things to remember. DeWanna Bonner, who was the league's sixth woman of the year in her first three seasons, was the Mercury's go-to player in 2012, averaging more than 20 points a game. And point guard Samantha Prahalis got a huge dose of experience last season.
Now, it's a matter of putting all of those pieces together for Gaines, especially with some tough competition in the West.
Griner's arrival on the scene is the biggest rookie splash in league history. The spotlight will be very bright, and she will be the target of better defenses and better players than she ever saw in college. Her impact in the block, however, should be immediate.
A low profile. The Mercury will be closely watched all season long. Every televised game will be a big deal; the collective eyes of the league will be on Phoenix. There will be no sailing under the radar.
Will it be a challenge to bring Griner into such a specific, fast-moving system and make her the center of the offense? Is sharing the ball going to be a problem with Taurasi, Taylor, Dupree and Bonner? Will Prahalis make another big adjustment to being a WNBA point guard with a new set of teammates to play with? These are the questions for a team that looks fantastic on paper.
Good health assumed, the Mercury are as much a lock for the WNBA postseason as any team in the league.
15dBonnie D. Ford