Mercury Meter: Early All-Star Returns And A Look At Brittney Griner's Progression

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What have the Phoenix Mercury been up to as they hit the road and continue to shine as the best team in the WNBA at nearly the halfway point in the season?

Record: 11-3 (.786)

Place In Standings: First (+0.5 on Minnesota)

Points Per Game: 84.64

Points Against: 77.14

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This needs to get prefaced with the fact that Brittney Griner is a dynamic physical talent that has all the potential in the world. She has gotten better incrementally from year one to year two.

Last season Griner scored, rebounded, and blocked shots because she was 6'8" and everyone else was not. She has taken the next step offensively this year with her ability to score the ball in a variety of ways with vastly improved strength, footwork, skill in the paint. She, at 6'8" Griner is going to score because she is 6'8", but adding moves and footwork make her nearly unstoppable on the offensive end 10-feet in.

Adding the strength to play at this professional level is a major reason for the boost in improvement as well as her play overseas, one-on-one coaching sessions with assistant Olaf Lange, and maturity.

As a rookie Griner hung her hat on being the biggest player on the court and shot-blocking. Those were her primary skills as a basketball player. With that she had a quality rookie year by the numbers 12.6 points (55.6% FG) 6.3 rebounds 3.0 blocks per game in 25.9 minutes. This year she has improved in nearly every offensive category. Griner is averaging 16.7 points (59.6% FG) 8.4 rebounds 4.1 blocks in 30.7 minutes per game.

The next step in her progression is to become a great rebounder. Right now she is getting rebounds because she is a 6'8" and not because she is a great rebounder. That is her biggest area of improvement to take the leap as a star in this league.

Despite playing 30+ minutes a night on average she has only finished three games with double-digit rebounds. Two dominant 18 rebound performances and one 10 rebound performance. One night it is 18 rebounds and the next it is 4 rebounds. Gaining that consistency and dominating the glass is the biggest area of opportunity for Griner and her progression as a star.

The sky is the limit for Griner and her glass ceiling is nonexistent. Very few basketball players have that type of future.

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WNBA All-Star Game Early Returns...

On June 23rd, the WNBA released the first returns for the 2014 WNBA All-Star Game voting. The Mercury have two players in the running for a starting spot in former MVP Diana Taurasi (10, 487 -- 5th Overall) and Brittney Griner (10,214 -- 6th Overall).

The team has a respectable amount of players on the ballet close enough to potentially becoming an All-Star this year.

Candace Dupree (4,801 -- 7th Forward in West), Erin Phillips (2,453 -- 8th Guard in West), and DeWanna Bonner (3,170 -- 9th Forward in West).

Balloting an voting ends on July 2nd at 9 p.m. local time in Arizona. Fans can vote for up to 10 players a day on either WNBA.com or via Twitter using the hashtag #WNBABALLOT with your individual selections. The starters will be announced on July 8th on ESPN during the Los Angeles Sparks vs. Minnesota Lynx game that tips at 6 p.m. local time. Reserves will be announced on July 15th during the ESPN2 televised Los Angeles Sparks vs. Indiana Fever game at 5 p.m. local time.

Get online to vote and vote often!


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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 14 games (11-3) which would equals 34 games in the longer, marathon of an NBA season. So far the Mercury are 41.17% of the way through their season. Time is flying.

The Mercury have a .786 winning percentage while the Suns (21-13) had a .617 winning percent at the same exact juncture in the season. Fourteen WNBA games is equivalent to 34 NBA games and both teams were playing at a very high level early in the season. Right now the Mercury are hitting their stride with team play, defense, and offense all clicking at a high level right now. Same could be said for the Suns nearly halfway through their season. Similarities.

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. More than halfway there.

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