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Kia Nurse building chemistry with Mercury teammates, eager for season

Kia Nurse #11 of the Capitals celebrates during game two of the WNBL Grand Final series between the University of Canberra Capitals and Southside Flyers at AIS Arena on March 04, 2020 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

A year after struggling in the bubble, newly acquired Phoenix Mercury guard Kia Nurse is excited for a fresh start in the Valley.

After making the WNBA All-Star team in 2019, Nurse had trouble getting in a rhythm last season with her former team the New York Liberty, shooting 27.3% from the field. Playing in the bubble in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic was the perfect storm for a down year, according to Nurse.

“Every single day was rough shooting for me in the bubble,” Nurse said on a Zoom call on Tuesday. “It was not a good season.”

Nurse wasn’t the only one who struggled last season, as the Liberty went 2-20 and finished with the worst record in the WNBA.

Before 2020’s unprecedented circumstances, Nurse made a name for herself as one of the best outside threats in the WNBA.

The No. 10 overall pick in the 2018 draft shot 40.2% from the field during her rookie year and 29.4% from three-point range. During her All-Star season, Nurse shot 35.3% from beyond the arc, the best mark of her career.

After the Mercury traded their 2021 and 2022 first-round picks to the Liberty and guard Yvonne Turner to the Atlanta Dream in a three-team deal to acquire Nurse in February, she’s been focused on building a rapport with Diana Taurasi and Skyler Diggins-Smith.

“Continuing to get on the court with Diana and Skyler and building that chemistry has obviously been really great,” Nurse said. “I think they’re both tremendous players. … They’ve really been amazing at just taking the time, whether it’s a second in between plays, or whether it’s after the practice to just talk to me about little things that can help me get better each and every day.”

Even though Nurse has just begun practicing with her new team, she has confidence that they can be one of the top teams in the WNBA. Being a team that does the little things right will give the Mercury an advantage, according to Nurse.

“I think we have a top team for sure,” Nurse said. “There will be challenges, but I think what you have to have to be competitive in this league is good leadership, which we do, players who have been all-stars before and I’ve been there and been in that situation.”

“Then a team that’s just willing to do all those little things to help you win a game. … When you can do those little things that other teams can’t do. That’s going to give you a little bit of an edge in this season.”