Phoenix Mercury have the new big 3 to see, GM Pitman says
The Phoenix Mercury were the talk of the WNBA this week with their decision to bring All-Star guard Skylar Diggins-Smith to the Valley.
The team dealt longtime Mercury guard DeWanna Bonner to the Connecticut Sun for three first-round picks. The next day, they brought in Diggins-Smith from the Dallas Wings for the No. 5 and 7 picks in the 2020 WNBA Draft and a 2021 pick.
Phoenix Mercury general manager Jim Pitman told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station that with the addition of Diggins-Smith to center Brittney Griner and guard Diana Taurasi, the team has something special.
“When Griner and Diggins-Smith came out of college, they were part of the three to see,” Pitman said. “Well we’ve got the new three to see in Skylar Diggins-Smith, Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi.”
Diggins-Smith averaged 17.9 points, 6.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game in 2018 with Dallas. Diggins-Smith missed the 2019 season after giving birth to her first child that spring.
The Mercury also nailed down the three on Friday when they announced they signed Griner to a multi-year extension.
Last season, Griner led the league in points per game (20.7), blocks per game (2.0) and was second in field goal percentage (56.4).
The addition of Diggins-Smith could be the boost that the Mercury need to bring another championship to the Valley, something they haven’t done since 2014.
“We’ve put together teams that we thought were competitive. Last year was just an awful season as far as injuries go,” Pitman said. “We only had 14 minutes all season where we had our entire group together. Many nights, we had eight players dressing, and that was a difficult time for us.”
One of the struggles the Mercury faced last year was not having Taurasi at full strength. She underwent discectomy surgery where the team thought she’d be out for 12 weeks, but it turned into eight months.
“Taurasi is back healthy,” Pitman said. “She was down in the gym just this week shooting, getting shots up. She said she’s pain free for the first time in years.”
During the 2018 season, Taurasi averaged 20.7 points per game in her 33 appearances for the Mercury. Pitman said missing that time has been a chip on Taurasi’s shoulder.
“No one is as big of a competitor — and I mean no one — than Diana Taurasi” Pitman said.
Despite Taurasi being 37 years old, Pitman said he’s not worried about her age because she keeps herself in such great shape. And with her being back to full strength, it’s full steam ahead for the Mercury this year.