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Phoenix Mercury’s ‘Big 3’ ranked among top-25 WNBA players

Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi (3) is congratulated by center Brittney Griner, left, and Skylar Diggins-Smith (4) after scoring a basket during the first half of a WNBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Sparks, Saturday, July 25, 2020, in Ellenton, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

It’s no surprise that the Phoenix Mercury’s “Big 3” have been ranked among the top-25 WNBA players ahead of the 2021 season.

On the list curated by ESPN, Mercury legend Diana Taurasi came in at No. 6, behind a top 5 of Breanna Stewart, 2020 MVP A’ja Wilson, Elena Delle Donne, Candace Parker and Napheesa Collier.

Taurasi, who turns 39 in June, is entering her 17th season with no signs of slowing down. The 6-foot guard led the team in scoring (18.7 points per game) last season while guiding the team to playoffs for the 10th time in her career.

ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel wrote of Taurasi’s 2020 season:

She had a season-high 34 points on Aug. 23, which would have been Kobe Bryant’s birthday, wearing a No. 8 jersey in tribute to him. Her true shooting percentage (62.5) was the second-best of her career, and her offensive rating of 118 was also second-best (she has been at 120 three times).

The Mercury’s other two standouts, Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins-Smith, were ranked No. 13 and 14, respectively.

Despite only appearing in 12 games before leaving the bubble last season, Griner averaged 17.7 ppg, 7.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists. She also posted a season-high 29 points in a game against the Dallas Wings.

MVP talk has swirled around the 6-foot-9 center over the course of her career, but she has yet to win the award.

“Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said Griner is entering the season ‘motivated’,” The Undefeated’s Sean Hurd wrote. “Translation: Expect Griner to be in the MVP conversation again in 2021.”

After Griner departed the bubble for personal mental health reasons, Diggins-Smith stepped up in her absence and ended the season with 17.7 points per game, 3.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists.

It was Diggins-Smith’s first season with the Mercury and first season back in the WNBA following her pregnancy and birth of her son in 2019.

She finished the regular season ranked in the top 10 in scoring and assists. In the Mercury’s first-round playoff matchup against Washington, Diggins-Smith led an 11-point fourth-quarter comeback, scoring 10 points in the final frame while making the game-winning assist. Diggins-Smith made it clear that there was nothing lost from her missed 2019 season and that she is undoubtedly one of the great players in the league.

The Phoenix Mercury begin their season Friday at 6 p.m. when they take on the Minnesota Lynx.