The Phoenix Mercury will be without All-Star center Brittney Griner for a little longer. The team announced she left the WNBA bubble at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, for personal reasons.
Griner missed a big matchup with the Minnesota Lynx on Friday night for positioning in the middle of the packed standings. The Mercury dropped their third consecutive game, 90-80.
Griner is averaging 17.7 points per game, ranking sixth in the league, and 7.5 rebounds per game, ranking eighth. She’s also averaging 3.0 assists and 1.8 blocks. Her efficiency rating of 19.8 is tied for fourth-best.
If the Seattle Storm’s Breanna Stewart and Las Vegas Aces’ A’ja Wilson weren’t running away with the MVP conversation, she would be in the heart of it.
Mercury face long road without Griner
Losing Griner, a big inside presence and former defensive player of the year, is a big loss for the Mercury (6-7). She not only is tops in the league, she’s the team’s leading scorer, rebounder and a block specialist.
Her 31.8 average minutes per game is also a large hole to fill in a condensed season and the single-site conditions mean it’s more difficult to add anyone to the roster. She will have to serve a quarantine period upon re-entry to the bubble. It’s likely she’s out a minimum of three games (Sunday, Wednesday and Friday).
The Mercury added fellow All-Star Skylar Diggins-Smith in the offseason to create a new big three of Griner, Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi. But the team has been up-and-down so far in the “wubble.” Taurasi also missed time due to a back issue and struggled from the floor against the Lynx.
Phoenix plays the Washington Mystics on Sunday afternoon that will be aired on Facebook and the WNBA League Pass.
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