Brittney Griner is still 6-foot-8 and she still dunks. But she’s not nearly the same player as her rookie season.
"She's a totally different player,” teammate Diana Taurasi told the media this week. "She's gained her confidence back, her aggression.”
To date, the box scores back that up. Griner is scoring 15.2 points per game and pulling 8.2 rebounds per game. A year ago, she averaged 12.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
Of course, when looking at the stat sheet, it’s hard not to notice the 77 blocks in 21 games. That’s more than a half-dozen WNBA teams. (Note: at Tulsa on June 29, she blocked a WNBA-record 11 shots.)
"She went to China and she really put the work in," said Mercury first-year coach Sandy Brondello. “And she's put the work in here every day we've been here. So it's about getting physically strong and just understanding, `OK, these are the things I need to work on to be a force in this league."'
Mission accomplished. With the Mercury on an 11-game winning streak and atop the league standings, Griner and Taurasi will both start the WNBA All-Star game Saturday in Phoenix.
As for the dunks, she threw down her second dunk this season in a win on Tuesday.
“I kind of surprise myself sometimes,” Griner laughed when asked to describe the dunk. “It just happened. If it feels right, I do it.”
In 45 games, Griner has four dunks. In 3,990 games, the rest of the WNBA has six dunks.