May 18, 2023 - Sports

Phoenix Mercury return Griner, but rife with questions

Brittney Griner dribbles a basketball past Chiney Ogwumike.

Brittney Griner handles the ball against Chiney Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks. Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The superteam era has officially hit the WNBA, which kicks off its 27th season Friday with four games.

  • A wild offseason full of former MVPs and All-Stars joining forces sets the table for what could be an epic summer of basketball.

Why it matters: The Phoenix Mercury might be a competitor on paper, but what this team looks like on the court in 2023 is anyone's guess.

  • After getting to the WNBA Finals in 2021 behind its star trio of Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi, the Mercury were considered a favorite last season.
  • Instead, Griner spent the season detained in a Russian prison, and Phoenix's season understandably stayed stuck in neutral.

What we're watching: What Griner looks like on the court this year is one of the most fascinating storylines in sports.

  • The eight-time All Star is one of the best players in the league but she went 560 days between official basketball activities and said Phoenix's first preseason game last week was "a lot to take in."
  • With Diggins-Smith likely being out for the season while on maternity leave and Taurasi about to turn 41 in June, there's a lot up in the air in Phoenix.

Take a look at every WNBA team's chances at a 2023 title, ranked by their odds.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Phoenix.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Phoenix stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Phoenix.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more