Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury Win WNBA Draft Lottery, Pick Brittney Griner?

Michael Brumagin@@mbrumaginCorrespondent IIISeptember 26, 2012

Next year the Phoenix Mercury's starting lineup will feature a new star. The question remains, "Who?"
Next year the Phoenix Mercury's starting lineup will feature a new star. The question remains, "Who?"Christian Petersen/Getty Images

With the WNBA playoffs starting tomorrow, the WNBA Draft Lottery came and went tonight. Like many other things related to the WNBA—the season included, this happened without much fanfare. It's not trending on Twitter or Google. You won't hear about it on CNN. It's not the headlining story on ESPN.

Much like its NBA counterpart, it is meant to help the teams whose talent is not as competitive as the rest of the league position themselves for better players in the draft. This system is in place to curve the potential that teams may want to tank to improve their chances in the draft.

Usually the worst teams get the right to draft the best player.

Sometimes a good team with bad luck strikes it rich. This is one of those times.

Your Phoenix Mercury beat the odds and won the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft Lottery.#GoMerc

— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury)

Judging by their record, 7-27, the Phoenix Mercury had the second worst season of the year. Sounds bad, doesn't it? But when you consider that their star players, Penny Taylor and Diana Taurasi, missed most of the season, they could have been that much better.

Taylor missed the whole season due to a torn ACL. Taurasi was only healthy enough to play in eight games due to a nagging hip flexor—four of which account for more than half the team's victories.

Diana and Penny aren't the only players to struggle with injuries this year. At one point in time, as many as three of their five starters were out simultaneously.

Looking forward to the 2013 WNBA Draft, one might think that Brittney Griner, star center of Baylor University, is a lock to be the first pick. At 6-foot-8, Griner is possibly the most dominant center to come through the college ranks.

Statistically speaking, the Mercury average just over 20 points of offensive production from their center position. But, they accomplish this by splitting time between three players: Lynetta Kizer, Nakia Sanford and Krystal Thomas. They average 13.6, 26.6 and 16.7 minutes respectively.

Additionally, Phoenix was the second worst team in block differential, meaning that they were blocked while attempting to score more often than they blocked other teams. Griner, who is 65 blocks away from becoming the all-time leader in women's college basketball history, would most definitely flip that statistic on its side.

Adding Brittney Griner would be a huge upgrade at the position. They would get a lot more production per minute from a single player.

But is Brittney a proverbial lock?

Considering that the Mercury are the league's worst 3-point shooting team, shooting a dismal 29.5% from range, they may want to consider looking to Elena Delle Donne from the University of Delaware.

Delle Donne led the nation in scoring this past season with just over 28 points per contest. She also shot an astounding 41.3% from 3-point range, making 52 of 126 attempts. "But," you might ask, "can she contribute to the low-post?"

The answer is a resounding "YES!"

At 6-foot-5, she can still make an impact down on the block. Last season, Delle Donne averaged 10.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.

While Brittney Griner is the trendy pick for the Phoenix Mercury, being as tall as she is with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, don't be surprised if Elena Delle Donne is the first name that you hear in the WNBA Draft.

This much can be said, with the forthcoming NCAA season soon to start, Phoenix GM Corey Gaines has his a lot of work yet to do.