Put respect on Skylar Diggins-Smith’s season

Published: 07/26/22
Put respect on Skylar Diggins-Smith’s season
All you need to know about the biggest stories in sports and how to bet on them, sent straight to your inbox.

Sent twice weekly so you can stay on top of what’s good in sports.

To say this WNBA season in Phoenix has been tumultuous would be an understatement. Brittney Griner’s wrongful detainment in Russia is front-and-center in Mercury teammates’ and fans’ minds as her trial is ongoing. And on the court, we’ve seen a clown emoji debacle, the departure of Hall of Famer-to-be Tina Charles via contract divorce, and superstar feuds between Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith.

But while one player of that star duo has been up-and-down all season, the latter has been the team’s anchor and deserves more credit for the Mercury’s current standing, just a half-game out of the No. 6 seed. 

If the Mercury are able to snag a final spot in the playoffs (six teams are separated by three games for three playoff spots), it’s going to be because of Diggins-Smith. The 31-year-old is having one of the best seasons of her career, scoring a career-best 20.9 points per game as the team’s most reliable two-way option no matter the matchup.

Put simply: the Mercury are getting smacked whenever she leaves the court. When Diggins-Smith plays, they’re out-scoring opponents by 2.3 points per 100 possessions. When she’s on the bench, they’re being out-scored by 16.5 points per 100 possessions. That’s the difference between a postseason squad and one that earns the No. 1 draft pick.

It feels odd to have to call attention to a player averaging 20 points and 5.5 assists per game, but after she was snubbed as an All-Star starter, and then reportedly placed on the trade block, it’s also necessary.

Vanessa Nygaard’s willingness to play Sophie Cunningham at the four has helped. But if Skylar Diggins-Smith’s 35 points against the Storm didn’t get enough attention, let me hammer the point even further. The Mercury are going as far as SDS takes them.

Recommended for you