Mercury guard earns fourth career Player of the Week honor
No team in the WNBA is hotter than the Phoenix Mercury, fresh off a six-game winning streak headed into the last week of the season, despite being decimated by player injuries and absence. Among the most important drivers of that success is Skylar Diggins-Smith, in her first season with the Mercury, who has been named the WNBA’s Western Conference Player of the Week (for games ending Sept. 6), as announced by the league office today. It’s the fourth career honor for Diggins-Smith and her first in Mercury purple and orange.
Diggins-Smith is on a tear as of late, averaging 23.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 3.0 made three-point field goals made over the Mercury’s last six games, which included a season-best 30-point effort and five consecutive games games of 20 or more, her longest such stretch since July 5-25, 2017. Diggins-Smith earned Player of the Week honors after averaging 26.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists in the Mercury’s three games last week. The guard recorded her 3,000th-career point in the team’s win over New York on September 5, becoming the fastest player in WNBA history to 3,000 career points, 900 assists and 500 rebounds (187 career games), the only player to do so in fewer than 200 games played.
After finishing with 20 points, six rebounds, seven assists and three three-pointers on September 1 against Las Vegas, Diggins-Smith notched 28 points, four rebounds and eight assists in the Mercury’s win on September 3 against Indiana, the 14th game in WNBA history with such numbers (second time in her career) and the first since Diana Taurasi did so in 2018. The shifty guard wrapped up the week with 30 points and seven rebounds on Sunday against New York, her first 30-point performance of the season and ninth of her career.
A leading candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, Diggins-Smith missed all of last season last season after becoming a mother and has returned to average 17.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game, one of only two players in the WNBA this season averaging at least 17 points and four assists per game (teammate Diana Taurasi is the other). The former Notre Dame standout’s scoring has come from a career-best 47.9 percent shooting from the field, 41.3 percent (43-for-104) clip from three-point range and 90.1 percent (82-of-91) mark from the free-throw line. Diggins-Smith currently ranks sixth in the league in scoring and 10th in assists this season, joining Taurasi as the only two players in the league to rank in the top-10 in both scoring and assists per game. She’s knocked down 43 three-pointers on the season, which ranks fifth in the league and is eight shy of her career mark for threes in a season (51 in 2018).
The Phoenix Mercury return this summer in search of a league-record tying fourth WNBA title at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, the Official Home of the 2020 WNBA Season. Led by the All-Star duo of Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith, the Mercury continue its title quest on September 9 against the Connecticut Sun at 4 p.m. Phoenix time. While the surroundings may be unfamiliar and the stands may be empty, this moment and this season is #4TheValley. For more information, visit PhoenixMercury.com.