After being held in a Russian prison for over nine months, Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner is back in the WNBA playing as well as ever. Despite an 0-2 start to Mercury, Griner put up big numbers and maintained his status as one of the best players in the world.
Through two games, Griner is sixth in the WNBA in scoring, averaging 22.5 points per game and averaging eight rebounds per game through the first few games of the 2023 season. In a 75-69 loss to the Chicago Sky on Sunday, Griner was dominant, posting 27 points, ten rebounds and four blocks along with a string of highlight plays.
Griner also passed Sylvia Fowles for third on the all-time blocked list in the WNBA.
Griner also opened the scoring for the 2023 season on the Mercury home floor with a sweet up and down move that went one and one.
Even more impressive than Griner’s two-match on-field appearances this season is the overall reception he has received on his return to the league. In his first home game back, Griner was cheered on by the Mercury crowd during a pre-game introduction to the crowd. What a moment for Griner, who deserves this accolade.
Mercury also made his first home game a great moment. The excitement and celebration of bringing Griner back and hosting his first home game was really cool to see, and deserved for someone who’s going through the same thing as Griner. He went 585 days without playing in front of the Mercury fans, and when he came back it was as if the fans were hugging him like they were before he was arrested.
Now he’s back, he continues to play at a very high level. Of course, Mercury is two games out this season, but Griner’s play has been impressive. He took more three points per game through two games and shot better from the free throw line. The defense is still excellent too.
Griner’s career high in points per game was 21.9 PPG in 2017, and there is a very real possibility that Griner could top his career high this season. If Phoenix’s return to play is any indication, Griner is as good as ever and that could lead to career highs across the board, even if Mercury isn’t as great as his previous season.