Mercury Meter: The Phoenix Mercury Are The Best Team In The WNBA

Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sport

How have the Phoenix Mercury risen to the top of the WNBA a year after the roller coaster season that ended in the Western Conference Finals?

Record: 9-3 (.750)

Place In Standings: First (+0.5 on Minnesota)

Points Per Game: 83.33

Points Against: 75.25

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Don't look now, but the Phoenix Mercury are the best team in the WNBA and along the way they conquered their demons by knocking off the Minnesota Lynx for the first time in five games. They are playing a team brand of basketball that has come together better this year more so than last year. The roster is similar, but the massive improvements from Brittney Griner, the return of Penny Taylor, and a better assortment of role players have vaulted the team into a better start this year than ever before.

Add in DeWanna Bonner and Candace Dupree as the most talented role players in the entire league, that could go out and be the best or second best player on any other team, and you have a team poised to make a run.

The Mercury's defense has been very much improved, with much more room for improvement, with the new coaching staff and the play of Griner and Bonner. As the players are falling into their roles getting more comfortable with every game that passes this team is getting better and better. Bonner is a lockdown defender, Dupree is a terrific pick-and-roll scorer, Taylor does a little bit of everything, and the bench brings the energy setting the tone every night.

The defense has to focus on Taurasi and Griner who are becoming a dominant duo right now scoring, rebounding, and taking over games inside-and-out this season like no other duo in recent WNBA memory.

There is no mention of the "C" word, but this team is playing like a team looking for redemption and a Championship.

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Diana Taurasi Chasing History...

G.O.A.T. is a concept that gets thrown around too often in undeserving circles, but there is no doubt that Diana Taurasi has entered into that conversation with the full scope of her career. Let's talk numbers.

This week Taurasi became the 19th player ever to log 10,000 minutes for her career. Meaning she has logged the minutes, time to see if the stats are starting to make a case for her...

Points. Right now Taurasi is 3rd in points scored all-time behind Tina Thompson and Katie Smith. Both are retired at this stage. She needs 48 points to overtake Smith for No. 2 All-Time (three games based on her current season average) and 1,084 points to move into the top spot surpassing Thompson. That is the equivalent to just under two games based on Taurasi's general season point totals over the years. No. 1 Scorer in WNBA Hstory ETA TWO YEARS

Assists: Right now she is 6th in assists all-time behind Ticha Penicheiro (retired, -1,258), Sue Bird (-665), Lindsay Whalen (-462), Becky Hammon (-279), and Shannon Johnson (Retired, -83) which is a tougher list to climb.

There are more active players that will continue to distribute the ball and on average Taurasi dishes out roughly 120 assists a season with the potential to do much, much more with her current style of play. On that rate scale Taurasi is a season away from the Top 5, two seasons or so from moving past Hammon (if she stops passing), and 10 seasons away from becoming the leader in assists all-time.

Realistically, Taurasi will be the No. 1 Scorer and in the Top 5 in Assists All-Time in WNBA history with two WNBA Championships, an NVP, a Finals MVP, a Rookie of the Year trophy, and accolades outside of the WNBA that are unmatched. Is Taurasi the G.O.A.T. today? That is all about the "eye of the beholder," but she is rounding out her resume over the next 2-4 seasons.


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...and Let's Compare The Mercury/Suns.

The WNBA season is shorter than the NBA season. That is a starting point worth mentioning going into this conversation, but last year the Phoenix Suns went on a magical run that was special to the fans and now the Mercury are embarking on their own similar season.

At this stage the Mercury have played 12 games (9-3) which would equals 29 games in the longer, marathon of an NBA season.

The Mercury have a .750 winning percentage while the Suns (18-11) had a .620 winning percent at the same exact juncture in the season. Twelve WNBA games is equivalent to 29 NBA games and both teams were playing at a very high level early in the season. The Mercury surprised early with defense while the Suns surprised early by simply winning games.

Going to keep a watchful eye on this as the season progresses. The Suns finished with a .585 winning percentage last season which would translate to a 20-14 season for the Mercury. Halfway there.

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Upcoming Schedule:

Friday @ Indiana Fever at 4 p.m. AZ Time

Sunday @ Tulsa Shock at 1:30 p.m. AZ Time

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