The Mercury star expected to miss at least one-third of the regular season
The hits just keep coming for the WNBA. After losing reigning MVP Breanna Stewart for the season to an Achilles injury, the league will now kick off the 2019 campaign without nine-time All-Star Diana Taurasi.
The Phoenix Mercury announced today that Taurasi underwent a back procedure on Wednesday and will miss 10-12 weeks. She had been experiencing pain and muscle weakness in her back caused by a disc protrusion and underwent the procedure in hopes of alleviating those symptoms.
“Diana began experiencing symptoms during offseason workouts, notified us, and in conjunction with our medical staff determined the right course of action,” General Manager Jim Pitman said. “We have confidence that this procedure will not only get her back on the court but ensure she can get back to chasing around her toddler son, Leo, as well.”
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The Mercury are now tasked with finding a way to get through a large part of the season without the league’s all-time leading scorer. If Taurasi’s recovery proceeds along the shortest timeline, she would return in the first week of July. That would entail missing the first 12 games of the 34-game regular season.
There is no replacing a player of Taurasi’s caliber, but the Mercury have several options. In addition to Taurasi, they return three guards from last year in point guards Briann January and Leilani Mitchell, along with defensive presence Yvonne Turner. They were able to pick up shooting guard Sophie Cunningham and point guard Arica Carter in the draft while signing Essence Carson and Alexis Peterson to training camp contracts.
Cunningham, the thirteenth pick in this month’s draft, would appear to have a stronger chance of making the squad in Taurasi’s absence.
Taurasi averaged 20.7 points and 5.3 assists per game last season to lead the Mercury in both categories. That scoring mark was good enough to make her the third-leading scorer in the WNBA for the season while helping her become the first player in the league’s history to reach 8,000 career points. She was also the only player in the league to rank in the top five in both assists and points per game.
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