The juiciest stories of the 2023 WNBA season, including Griner’s return
Skylar Diggins-Smith, Shey Peddy, Sophie Cunningham and Brianna Turner kept Mercury’s emotional 2022 season alive, fights on the hardwood while campaigning for the freedom of the team’s biggest star, Griner, who has spent most of the season in Russian prisons, illegally. A public feud broke out on the sidelines between Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi, who also spoke Head coach Vanessa Nygaard’s reaction to the All-Star championship in a year when Taurasi was not honored. In February, the franchise signed Taurasi to a multiyear contract and declared “the face of the franchise”.
Diggins-Smith, who is currently on maternity leave, is the face of Puma’s ‘Desert Sky’ campaign. However, his status with the team is unclear. What there is What is certain, however, is that Taurasi will turn 41 in June and should not be touted as the face of the franchise. In recent years, he has missed significant playing time due to various injuries. In 2022, his defensive efforts at times involved him throwing his arms in the air rather than running back to help his team. He even gave Sylvia Fowles a little punch.
Peddy, who suffered a torn Achilles in the 2022 playoffs, helped the Mercury reach the final playoffs (his 2023 return date has yet to be set); he was in contention with the ultra-competitive Cunningham, who struggled with an elbow injury for much of the season, and Diggins-Smith, who grounded the Mercury in IQ and experience. These are the players, along with Turner and Griner, if you want to be one of them, that need to be promoted as the team’s stars to solidify the franchise’s future. Griner can do a lot for Mercury, but only the Phoenix front office can stitch together the many worn parts and tear the threads that are no longer useful.
Phoenix played home opener against the Chicago Sky. Griner had 27 points, 10 boards and four blocks.