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WNBA Six Pack: Imagining Cappie Pondexter back in Phoenix, Tari Phillips tearing up New York and more past-present reunions

Our minds remain on the past in this week’s second “WNBA Six Pack.” We envision how the likes of Nikki Teasley, Tari Phillips and Cappie Pondexter could help the current versions of their former teams.

San Antonio Silver Stars v Phoenix Mercury
It would be fun to see Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter reunited in the backcourt for the Phoenix Mercury.
Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Today, in this week’s second “WNBA Six Pack,” we introduce the perfect(ish) past player addition for the Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx, New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury, Seattle Storm and Washington Mystics.

As a reminder, this exercise excludes players in the Basketball Hall of Fame, as well as those who have been retired for less than five seasons.

Los Angeles Sparks (11-18): Nikki Teasley

Los Angeles Sparks v Seattle Storm
The Los Angeles Sparks’ Nikki Teasley shows off her handle in an early 2000s game.

Even though the Sparks have a surfeit of guards, they do not have someone like Nikki Teasely.

The 2003 All-Star Game MVP and two-time All-WNBA honoree owns one of the sickest handles in WNBA history, bringing Los Angeles’ showtime spirit to this up-and-down Sparks’ season. Teasely could confuse defenders to then dime up Nneka Ogwumike, Dearica Hamby and Azurá Stevens for easy scores in the paint, while also setting up Lexie Brown and Karlie Samuelson for open 3s.

Selected No. 5 in the 2002 WNBA Draft, Teasley was traded on draft night to Los Angeles from the Portland Fire. She then spent four seasons in LA followed by two seasons with the Washington Mystics. After missing the 2008 season while on maternity leave, she returned in 2009, concluding her career with the Atlanta Dream and Detroit Shock.

Teasley also would augment the Sparks’ 3-point shooting, as she shot over 40 percent from deep in three of her four seasons in LA.

Up next: Saturday, Aug. 12 vs. Atlanta Dream (7:30 p.m. ET, League Pass)

Minnesota Lynx (14-15): Nicky Anosike

San Antonio Silver Stars v Minnesota Lynx
Nicky Anosike prepares to power up for the put back during a 2010 game for the Minnesota Lynx.
Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

While the Lynx have improved since their 0-6 start, weaknesses remain, especially on the defensive end. Since the numerous legends who suited up for the Lynx during their 2010s dynasty are ineligible for selection, we turn to a pre-dynasty defensive-minded role player: Nicky Anosike.

The 6-foot-3 Anosike, a second-round pick in the 2008 draft, would provide Minnesota with an athletic presence in the paint. It also would be a familiar role for Anosike; for, although her individual defensive statistics were strong, the Lynx lagged on that side of the ball during her three seasons in Minnesota.

As a rookie, she finished in the top in 10 in total defensive rebounds, blocks and steals, as well as defensive win shares. The following year, Anosike was an All-Star and All-Defense honoree, again ranking second in the league in total steals. She also wasn’t a non-factor on offense, with her aggression on the offensive glass resulting in her earning lots of trips to the free throw line. In 2009, she led the league in free throws attempted.

Knee injuries ultimately would cut Anosike’s career short. After her three seasons with Minnesota, she played one season in Washington before a limited final season in Los Angeles.

Up next: Thursday, Aug. 10 at Indiana Fever (7 p.m. ET, Prime Video)

New York Liberty (22-6): Tari Phillips

Phillips v Coleman
In a 2003 game for the New York Liberty, Tari Phillips sizes up her opponents as she seeks to score.
Photo by Ray Amati/WNBAE via Getty Images

After running the Las Vegas Aces out of Barclays on Sunday, the Liberty have to be feeling pretty good about themselves. But they’d be feeling even better if they had Tari Phillips.

A four-time All-Star during her five seasons with New York, Phillips would bring a different, throwback flavor to the Liberty. Over the course of her nine-year career, with one season with the Orlando Miracle and three seasons with the Houston Comets sandwiching her time with the Liberty, Phillips only attempted 22 3-pointers, making just three. This season’s Liberty lead the league in 3-point attempts per game.

Envision Phillips as an off-the-bench, change-of-pace option who would offer voracious, efficient paint scoring. She also would enhance the Liberty’s already strong work on the glass, while her defensive activity, as she finished in the top 10 in steals per game three times, would give New York more opportunities to light up opponents in transition.

Up next: Friday, Aug. 11 vs. Chicago Sky (8 p.m. ET, ION); Sunday, Aug. 13 at Indiana Fever (3 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Phoenix Mercury (8-20): Cappie Pondexter

Phoenix Mercury v Sacramento Monarchs
Cappie Pondexter rises for the jumper during a 2006 Phoenix Mercury game.
Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Fortunately, Cappie Pondexter, who last played in the WNBA in 2018 and is not yet in the Hall of Fame, just meets the criteria for this exercise. Despite some evidence that Pondexter and Diana Taurasi were not on the best of terms after Pondexter departed Phoenix ahead of the 2010 season, we need to reunite the guard duo that led the Mercury to WNBA titles in 2007 and 2009.

Pondexter not only would combine with Taurasi to bring scoring sizzle and spice to the Phoenix backcourt, but also would improve the Mercury’s ball distribution. She consistently put her teammates in advantageous scoring positions, ranking near the top of the league in assists per game, total assists and assist percentage. The attack-minded Pondexter also would help the Mercury earn more easy points at the free throw line, as she finished in the top 10 in free throws attempted in three of her four seasons in Phoenix.

The No. 2 pick in the 2006 draft, Pondexter followed up her four seasons in Phoenix with five seasons in New York. After three seasons with the Chicago Sky, she spent time with the Sparks and Indiana Fever in her final season. Over her 13-year career, her influence also extended beyond the lines of the hardwood, as she was ahead of her time in embracing the intersection of hoops, fashion and entrepreneurship that now is elemental to WNBA culture.

Up next: Thursday, Aug. 10 vs. Connecticut Sun (10 p.m. ET, Prime Video); Sunday, Aug. 13 at Seattle Storm (6 p.m. ET, NBA TV)

Seattle Storm (7-21): Betty Lennox

Los Angeles Sparks v Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm’s Betty Lennox looks to attack in transition during a 2005 game.
Photo by: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Jewell Loyd leads the WNBA in point per game, averaging 24.3 ahead of Thursday night’s action. She also has had monster single-game scoring performances of 37, 39, 39 and 41 points. Yet, the Storm still sit 11th in WNBA in points per game because of a lack of consistent scoring beyond Loyd.

To add scoring pop to the Seattle lineup, we’re calling on 2004 Finals MVP Betty Lennox, a certified microwave scorer. It was Lennox’s bucket-getting chops that earned her that Finals MVP. She scored 23 and 27 points in Seattle’s two title-clinching victories, efficiently sinking tough 2-pointers while also earning her way to the free throw line.

Drafted sixth overall by the Minnesota Lynx, the 2000 Rookie of the Year was in Minnesota for a little over two seasons before single-season stints with the Miami Sol and Cleveland Rockers. Lennox then arrived in Seattle, spending four seasons with the Storm before winding down her 12-year career with one season with the Dream, two with the Sparks and one with the Tulsa Shock.

Up next: Thursday, Aug. 10 vs. Atlanta Dream (10 p.m. ET, NBA TV); Sunday, Aug. 13 vs. Phoenix Mercury (6 p.m. ET, NBA TV)

Washington Mystics (13-15): Murriel Page

Murriel Page shoots
Murriel Page takes it to the hoop for the Washington Mystics during a 2002 game.
Photo by: Kent Horner/WNBAE/Getty Images

In his latest update, Josh Felton noted that the injury-ravaged Mystics were anticipating the returns of Ariel Atkins, Elena Delle Donne and Kristi Toliver. While those players certainly will boost the struggling squad, Washington will remain short handed in the frontcourt due to the continued absences of Shakira Austin and Queen Egbo.

To spare Brittney Sykes from more spot work as a big in small-ball lineups, let’s pull Murriel Page from the franchise’s early days to add needed size to today’s squad.

Soon after she arrived in DC, the No. 3 pick in the 1998 WNBA Draft made an impact on the glass, finishing in the top 10 in total rebounds during her first three seasons in the league. Although not a high-usage offensive player, the 6-foot-2 Page was incredibly efficient when converting scoring opportunities, twice leading the league in field goal percentage.

Of upmost importance for the Mystics, Page also was durable, playing in every game in a season eight times during her 11-year career. After eight season with the Mystics, she finished her career with three seasons with the Sparks.

Up next: Friday, Aug. 11 at Las Vegas Aces (10 p.m. ET, ION); Sunday, Aug. 13 vs. Chicago Sky (3 p.m. ET, ESPN 3)