As we transition into the final sprint that is the second half of the WNBA season, many teams across the league would agree that their season's haven't gone as well as planned. Outside of Minnesota, no team has really been consistent enough to say that making changes wouldn't be of help. As a Mercury fan, I took the time to really think on a trade that could help our team get to where it needs be. Nothing really came directly to the fore front but this is what I came up with:
"Phoenix Mercury acquire Meesseman, Quigley, Mitchell in blockbuster four-team deal."
I don't have any major dissatisfaction with our roster currently (although I'd much rather see Alexis Gray-Lawson or Jacki Gemelos in the uniform Jasmine James is wearing) I think there's a huge drop off when we look to the bench. Part of that comes down to the fact that two of our main rotation players are no threat to anyone offensively. Alexis Hornbuckle brings quality energy and leadership to the floor but the obvious hitch in her jumper needs to be fixed and she's not even effective off the dribble as she once was. On the same token, Krystal Thomas, while playing reasonably well last season in a larger role, still struggles to make layups. Aside from that, as a player considered a "defensive presence" she is consistently faked out of position, picks up bad fouls and doesn't board the ball well at all. Combine that with the bricklayer skills she has from the free throw line, she really is hurting the team more than helping the team at this point.
The trade I came up with involves shipping Thomas to Washington, Hornbuckle to New York and a second round pick to Chicago while receiving Emma Meeseman, Allie Quigley and Leilani Mitchell in return. Bill Laimbeer will replace MItchell with Hornbuckle as his third big lead guard in combination with Cappie Pondexter and Kamiko Williams. Mitchell has been very impressive in limited time this year as Laimbeer has constantly said she's his most consistent player but her minutes have been up and down all year with a transition more towards down the last 10 games. Washington would get a player in Thomas that would be able to grow and learn from vets such as Kia Vaughn and Michelle Snow where as she's playing behind a rookie center and while she should be leading by example, she's struggled to find her niche. In these circumstances, Thomas could develop into a solid rotation big.
Coming to Phoenix, whom she was originally drafted by, Mitchell could seamlessly transition into the backup 1 spot behind Taurasi. A career 41% three point shooter, Mitchell would be a welcome addition to the Mercury lineup as she is currently shooting a WNBA-leading 49% percent from three. Mitchell is also a very underrated defender, she's low to the ground and competes at a high level nightly; which increases the productivity from the backup lead guard position exponentially. Meesseman is a very talented player and she's currently stuck behind perenial, although this season was a fluke, all-star Crystal Langhorne and Thibault has not been able to find the minutes for her although she's played consistently well when she's on the floor. Meesseman could step in and allow Gaines to cut down Candice Dupree's minutes and allow Bonner to remain on the perimeter when Pree goes to the bench because she's been most effective, IMO, on the perimeter putting the ball on the floor, shooting open three's and causing disruption on the perimeter as a long, lanky defender that wings in the WNBA just aren't used to facing. She's constantly being beat up on by the posts that she's been stuck defending with Griner out, Meesseman has show good promise and a high IQ when defending the post to match her floor vision and strong range out to 18 feet on the opposite end. Finally, bringing back Mercury fan favorite Allie Quigley, who won a ring with the team in 2009, would be another positive move for the second worst shooting three point team in the WNBA. Quigley currently ranks third in the league at 43% from behind the arc and like the other two players coming to Phoenix with her, has become the odd-woman out in rotations for her current team as Shay Murphy seems to have snagged that second wing player off the bench for the Sky behind Prince, Delle Donne and Tamera Young. Quigley has improved quite a bit since her last stint in the league. In Chicago, to find minutes for her, Pokey Chatman has put Quigley into more of a ball-handling role which would only help her in Phoenix. Coming off the bench behind Briana Gilbreath, Quigley could automatically become the biggest spark off the bench as a spot-up shooter with an improved ability to put the ball on the floor. Quigley's addition would also help defensive as this would force Gaines to stop pretending that Charde Houston is a two-guard. While she has shown enough ability offensively to be fine there, seeing her pretend to guard Seimone Augustus, Kristi Tolliver and Jia Perkins has been enough to make my stomach turn.
While this trade is more than likely never going to happen, especially all in one, it's a trade that would definitely help the Mercury as well as the players they receive because they can actually be in a position where they can see the floor without looking over their shoulder due to the fact that they'd be playing behind what some would say the best players on their current squads.