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What if the Phoenix Mercury win the No. 1 pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft Lottery?

If the Phoenix Mercury win the No. 1 pick for the third time in franchise history, would Caitlin Clark, Cameron Brink or Rickea Jackson best complement former No. 1 picks Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner?

Los Angeles Sparks v Phoenix Mercury
Who might join Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi as the third No. 1 pick in the history of the Phoenix Mercury?
Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

WNBA Draft Lottery 2024 will be held Sunday, Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. In anticipation of the event, we’re analyzing what might happen if each of the four lottery teams—the Indiana Fever, Phoenix Mercury, Los Angeles Sparks and Seattle Storm—win the lottery and the No. 1 pick in a potentially-stacked 2024 WNBA Draft. Time for the Mercury.

More than any team in the WNBA, the Phoenix Mercury, owners of the second-best lottery odds with 276 of 1,000 chances, could use the infusion of elite, young talent that would come with winning the No. 1 pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft.

Since Brittney Griner was selected first overall in 2013, Phoenix has not seen a draft pick develop into a star, or even a supporting star. All in on Diana Taurasi’s timeline, the Mercury, more often than not, have traded their first-round pick or traded the player selected soon after, seeking to surround Taurasi and Griner with win-now players. Considering Phoenix was a playoff fixture until last season, when the organization missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012, it was an understandable approach.

Now under new leadership, Phoenix should be focused on the future. But, that’s easier said than done. The franchise is not going to push a living legend in Taurasi out the door, particularly when she is still capable of occasionally exploding for incredible performances. Although approaching her mid-30s, Griner remains a force; it wouldn’t be surprising if, more fully reacclimated to high-level hoops next season, she returns to a MVP level.

In short, if Phoenix lands the No. 1 pick, that player might not have the runway usually given to top selections, especially ones as talented as the college stars expected to enter their names in the 2024 draft. With all that in mind, let’s explore how three No. 1 pick candidates—Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, Stanford’s Cameron Brink and Tennessee’s Rickea Jackson—might fit into Phoenix’s somewhat complicated circumstance.

DT passes the torch to CC?

As UConn head coach Geno Auriemma indicated during “The Bird & Taurasi Show” broadcast of last spring’s national championship game, Caitlin Clark’s game most resembles that of Taurasi, with the pull-up shooting, underrated playmaking and unbridled confidence.

So, having Clark spend her first WNBA season alongside Taurasi—in potentially her last WNBA season—would be fitting. If both are in a zone in the same game, the Mercury would appear unbeatable, with the rook and 20-year vet rivaling each other with their shotmaking prowess.

Yet, more often than not, the two could split the primary offensive initiation responsibilities, easing the burden on Clark as she transitions to the WNBA. When Clark is on the ball, the off-ball threat of a looming Taurasi would give her more space to run pick and rolls with Griner. When roles are reserved, Taurasi could set Clark up for easier scores, whether for open spot-up jumpers or opportunities to attack a tilted defense. New associate head coach Kristi Toliver could also share tips with Clark, helping her contribute to the 2024 Mercury while also preparing her to be the team’s central star in season’s to come.

BG x CB twin towers?

However, a Taurasi-Clark backcourt would be less-than-ideal defensively.

If Phoenix’s new leadership team of prioritizes defense, Cameron Brink might be the pick. Combining Brink with Griner would give Phoenix one of the most imposing defensive front courts in WNBA history. The majority of opponents’ forays to the rim would end in rejection, as Brink has established herself as arguably the most prolific collegiate shot blocker since Griner. Griner also would provide needed protection for the foul-prone Brink.

On the other end of the floor, a Griner-Brink pairing could present some issues. Over the course of her WNBA career, Griner has stretched out her offensive game, finding comfort and success taking jumpers from the elbow. Brink, likewise, progressively has become a more proficient shooter from the midrange during her time at Stanford; so far this season, she’s also hitting almost 42 percent of her 3s. However, creating a modern, well-spaced and high-scoring offensive attack with two mostly-traditional bigs would be a challenge. (But, that’s the kind of problem new head coach Nate Tibbetts is being paid to solve!)

Could Rickea be the key?

Compared to Clark or Brink, Rickea Jackson would be less duplicative of Phoenix’s current Taurasi-Griner core. More importantly, the 6-foot-2 wing could be a perfect complement to the two (as long as she is able to shake the injuries that have slowed the start to her final season at Tennessee).

Jackson might not have the signature, starry skills possessed by Clark on the offensive end or Brink on the defensive end, but she would bring a well-rounded, high-floor game to the Valley, capable of providing supplementary scoring pop on offense and high-activity contributions on defense. If the Mercury are able to achieve their ambition of again becoming a playoff contender in 2024, it’s easy to imagine Jackson, even as a rookie, emerging as an integral piece, playing with composure and control in potentially high-leverage minutes. Based on her comments about Jackson after Team USA’s exhibition game against Tennessee, Taurasi seems to see something special in her.