Since Brittney Griner last played for the Phoenix Mercury, a lot has changed.
Griner was the sprinter up in the season MVP casting a ballot when the Mercury lost to the Chicago Sky in the 2021 WNBA Finals.
Griner was then held in a Russian prison for nearly ten months on drug-related charges, and as a result, he missed the 2022 season. The Mercury went 15-21 without her and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Las Vegas Aces.
Griner, who was released as part of a prisoner swap in December, now hopes to regain her form in 2021, and the Mercury hope to become title contenders once more when they face the Sparks in Los Angeles on Friday night.
Coach Vanessa Nygaard of Phoenix stated, “We were never really allowed to find joy (in the previous season).” Her return gives pleasure.”
In her one and only preseason performance, Griner, 32, scored 10 points and grabbed three rebounds on May 12 against the Sparks.
“Mentor continues to advise me to give myself beauty,” Griner said. ” In any case, that is hard.”
Diana Taurasi, the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, returns for a 19th season with Griner, who will turn 41 next month. Yet, the Mercury start the season without Skylar Diggins-Smith, who’s on maternity leave.
The Sparks have re-signed Chiney Ogumike and Nneka, and they hope that former Connecticut Sun coach Curt Miller can help them improve on their 13-23 record, which kept them out of the playoffs for a second time in 2022.
They brought in Dearica Hamby from the Aces, Azura Stevens from Chicago, and Jasmine Thomas from the Sun.
Hamby, 29, who made working environment offense claims against the Experts during her new pregnancy that the WNBA validated on Tuesday, brought forth her subsequent kid in Spring and said she intends to play Friday.
According to Hamby, “I told (Miller) to hold me to the same standard you would if I were fully healthy or recovering from pregnancy.” I try sincerely and I feel that will represent itself with no issue.”