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It was incredible that Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner played at all last season upon her return from a harrowing experience in Russia. That she was largely her usual self and made the All-Star Game despite spending the previous 10 months in Russian custody only made the feat that much more impressive. 

Griner's successful return raised excitement about what she could do this summer after a normal and healthy offseason, coupled with the Mercury's major personnel changes. And then, with just days remaining in training camp, she fractured her toe and was ruled out indefinitely. In the end, she missed nearly a month of action and the team's first 10 games. 

While the new-look Mercury showed some flashes of brilliance early on, they were inconsistent and went 4-6 in those contests. Since Griner returned on June 7, they are 3-1 with wins over the Minnesota Lynx and Seattle Storm, and their offense looks borderline unstoppable. Even in their lone defeat they put up 99 points. 

Griner only played 21 minutes in her return, which turned out to be all the time she needed to acclimate. In her last three games, she's been dominant: 25.7 points, nine rebounds, 2.7 assists and two blocks on 64.6% from the field. 

With all of the shooting the Mercury have now, combined with Nate Tibbetts' offensive philosophy to fire as many 3s as possible, it's very difficult for opponents to double Griner. If they do, they often have to come from a long way, which only leaves more space for the Mercury's shooters and gives Griner plenty of time to make the right pass. If they don't, Griner can play one-on-one in the post, and she's so big and talented that she'll get a good look every time. 

It's no surprise that in Griner's 123 minutes so far, the Mercury have a 110.6 offensive rating. As long as she stays healthy, the Mercury are going to be a serious problem for the rest of the league. 

WNBA Power Rankings
Only one game for the Liberty this week, but it was a big one on the road against the Aces in a Finals rematch. They got some measure of revenge with an impressive win powered by a career-high 34 points from Jonquel Jones, who continues to excel this season. Winners of eight in a row now, the Liberty are 12-2, which is tied for the best start through 14 games in franchise history.
The Sun bounced back from their first defeat last week with three wins from three games this week. They continue to dominate on the defensive end, where they are allowing 90.7 points per 100 possessions -- on pace for the lowest defensive rating since the 2007 Fever -- force turnovers on 21% of their defensive possessions and rebound 73.4% of their opponents' missed shots.
The Lynx continue to roll along. After two more wins this week, including a comfortable one over the Aces, they've won three in a row and six of their last seven. Napheesa Collier had another 30-point outing in their victory against the Sparks and is now averaging 21.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. The only other player to put up a 20/10/3 season in WNBA history is Chamique Holdsclaw.
While the Storm picked up two more wins this week, their loss to the Mercury did highlight a potential concern. They are now 2-5 against teams with a .500 or better record and 7-0 versus opponents below .500. That's not good enough for a team that views itself as one of the best in the league. They'll have two more chances to improve that record this week when they take on the Aces and Sun.
The Mercury won three in a row early on, then lost four in a row and have now won four of their last six. Brittney Griner has been incredible upon her return from a toe injury, averaging 22 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks on 63% shooting in her first four contests. Kahleah Copper, meanwhile, had another 30-point outing in their win over the Storm. Copper's five 30-point games are the most by any player this season.
A'ja Wilson broke into tears during her postgame press conference following the Aces' loss to the Liberty, emphasizing just how difficult the first month of the season has been in Las Vegas. The shorthanded Aces have already lost six games, which is as many as they lost all of last season, and sit in seventh place at 6-6. There was some good news this week, though, as it appears Chelsea Gray's return is now imminent.
A fourth-quarter comeback to beat the Sparks on Sunday saved this from being a truly disastrous week for the Dream, who days earlier had become the first team to lose to the Mystics this season. Finding consistent offense continues to be a major struggle for this group. A major reason why? They are 11th in restricted area efficiency (57.7%) and first in mid-range attempts per game (16.7). That is not a reliable formula.
Here come the Fever, who have won three of their last four, including a big one over the Sky, to climb into the playoff picture. It's no surprise that the winning has coincided with reigning Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston playing her best basketball of the season. She went off for a career-high 27 points and 13 rebounds in the win over the Dream, and she is averaging 17.5 points, 11.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists during the team's hot streak.
After losing their first 12 games of the season -- the fourth-worst start in WNBA history -- the Mystics have suddenly won two in a row. Unfortunately, it was not all good vibes in D.C. this week. Brittney Sykes made her long-awaited return to help them beat the Dream, but she was sent right back to the injured list with a foot sprain that will keep her out for at least another two weeks. She has still only played in three games this season.
The schedule makers did the Sparks no favors with this stretch, which sees them play seven consecutive road games. They lost all three of their contests this week and now have to play three more in five days this week against the Sun and Liberty. Amid all the losing, rookie forward Rickea Jackson continues to impress. Her 19-point, 10-rebound effort against the Lynx was her best performance yet.
The Sky's tough sledding continued this week, and they've now lost four games in a row and six of their last seven. A defeat to the lowly Mystics finally prompted a lineup change, and Chennedy Carter was promoted to the starting group along with Lindsay Allen in Sunday's loss to the Fever. They were 11th in the league in first-quarter scoring coming into that contest, and Carter, who is second in the team in scoring at 13.3 points per game, should prevent too many more slow starts.
The Wings' losing streak has reached seven games -- their longest since 2018. Only the Mystics, who up until a few days ago had not won a game, have a worse record this season. During this skid they have the worst net rating in the league at minus-11.4 points per 100 possessions. If things weren't already bad enough, they begin a four-games-in-seven-days road trip this week.