The Phoenix Mercury clinched the top seed in the Western Conference by beating the New York Liberty last night. After improving to 27-4 with three games remaining, the Mercury still have a chance to match - and possibly break - the league standard for games won in a single season. Allowing a league-low 73.9 points per game, the traditionally maligned Phoenix defense should allow them to at least match that record for wins.
But with Britney Griner still growing as a player and Diana Taurasi recently signing a contract extension, the team's future is looking bright as well. So following the theme of SB Nation-NBA's theme day, we ask, "Where will the Phoenix Mercury be in 12 months?"
August 13, 2015
"Reigning champion Mercury focus in on new WNBA single season win record for second consecutive season"
In an ideal world, that headline will ring true for every true Mercury fan out there. Just based on that statement one can assume that a year from now the Mercury will have completed this 2014 season with a new WNBA record for wins, won the WNBA championship (if you ask me, against a Chicago Sky squad that's much better than their record) and continued the aforementioned success into the next season.
DeWanna Bonner took the next step and became the heir apparent to Tamika Catchings in the history of talented forwards that do it all for their teams. Griner is headlining the MVP race while Taurasi and Taylor still carry the melody. Candice Dupree seems to be zeroing in on her first Olympic team selection.
The team's depth likely looks totally different again. The team is bringing solid players off the bench but the continuity is glaringly opposite of the starters that are now approaching 45 consecutive starts.
The Mercury have the talent and the pieces in correct spots to make this a reality. General Manager Jim Pitman seems in it for the long haul, coach Sandy Brondello is cool as a cucumber, even team trainer/travel administrator Tamara Poole finds herself in a comfortable spot, 7 years later. Health would be a big concern as the team begins the transition from a Taurasi/Taylor focus to the Griner/Bonner pairing with Dupree being the foundation supporting both eras.
For 2014, it'll be interesting to see how they finish the season and whether the starters continue to play heavy minutes.