Skylar Diggins-Smith, Shey Peddy, Sophie Cunningham and Brianna Turner kept Mercury’s emotional 2022 season alive, fight on hardwood while campaigning for the freedom of the team’s biggest star, Griner, who has spent most of the season wrongfully detained in Russian prisons. On the sidelines, there was public contention between Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi, who also disputed head coach Vanessa Nygaard’s reaction to her All-Star nod in a year when Taurasi was not honored. In February, the franchise re-signed Taurasi to a multi-year deal and declared her “the face of the franchise.”
Diggins-Smith, currently on maternity leave, is the face of Puma’s “Desert Sky” campaign. His status with the team, however, is unclear. What East certain, however, is that Taurasi turns 41 in June and is unlikely to be promoted as the face of the franchise. She has missed a lot of playing time in recent years due to various injuries. In 2022, his defensive effort has sometimes involved throwing his arms in the air rather than running to help his team. She even gave Sylvia Fowles the retirement gift of a low blow.
Peddy, who suffered a ruptured Achilles in the 2022 playoffs, helped propel the Mercury to the final playoff spot (a date for his 2023 return has yet to be set); she was in cahoots with the ultra-competitive Cunningham, who battled an elbow injury for much of the season, and Diggins-Smith, who founded the Mercury on IQ and hoops experience. It’s the players, plus Turner and Griner, if she wants to be one of them, who should be promoted as the stars of the team, in a bid to cement the franchise’s future. grinning can do a lot for the Mercury, but only the Phoenix front office can stitch together its many frayed pieces and cut the wires that are no longer needed.
Phoenix played its home opener against the Chicago Sky. Griner scored 27 points, caught 10 boards and added four blocks.