Your Day in Women’s Basketball, July 16: Big additions put Mercury in title contention

Mercury return Taurasi, add Diggins-Smith to complete a rare Bubble-Big 3

Plenty of news out of the Phoenix Mercury camp thus far in the bubble, especially as one of the few teams with a real big three intact: Brittney Griner, Diana Taurasi, and Skylar Diggins-Smith. God, even the idea of those three together again will make you yearn for basketball.

“Us three in action is going to be hard to guard,” center Brittney Griner said at team media day on Tuesday. “I don’t know what I would do, honestly. … You can’t take away all three of us.”

Griner was the only member of the trifecta to suit up for the Mercury last season, as Taurasi sat out with a hamstring injury and Diggins-Smith opted to leave the Wings in lieu of a contract dispute in 2018.

While they all agreed that now is the most difficult time ever to put a big three together, it’s also clear that having three bonafide stars that aren’t injured or out leaves the squad in an advantageous position.

The team also will return Alana Smith this season. After being drafted out of Stanford in 2019, the guard didn’t receive much playing time as a rookie last year. But now she’s healthy and ready to compete for the team.

“I know that they believe in me,” Smith said. “I know that they have that confidence in me and Bri (Turner) and Sophie (Cunningham), as well.”

If you’ve followed the WNBA with even one ounce of interest, you know that Kelly Loeffler has angered  the entire league’s player pool. Many in the league have responded to Loeffler’s attacks on the Black Lives Matter movement, and this past weekend, the Dream released a unified statement in unequivocal support of BLM.

In transaction news, former Sky guard Jamierra Faulkner decided to retire after her doctor told her to stop playing basketball. A five-year veteran of the league, Faulkner is one of the few third-round picks in recent memory to pack a punch on a WNBA roster.

They may have arrived in Florida after every other team, but that’s no reason to count out the Indiana Fever.

“Finally being around each other for a significant amount of time really helps with building the kind of championship culture that we want to build,” head coach Marianne Stanley said.

Erica Wheeler and Lauren Cox, both of whom were expected to bring the Fever back into playoff contention this season, have yet to join the team as they wait to clear medical protocol.

Indiana’s season dawns on the 25th against the defending champion Washington Mystics, though it is a very different Mystics team they will face. Regardless, it is a game you must circle on the calendar.

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