Brittney Griner Stats: How did Mercury veteran star perform in 2023? Closer look as former WNBA champ, announces return

Phoenix Mercury v Las Vegas Aces
Brittney Griner is set to play for another season with the Phoenix Mercury

Brittney Griner, after a turbulent past, managed to return to the Phoenix Mercury in the 2023 season. Now 33 years old, the six-foot-nine center has announced that she will be returning for another year with the team for $150,000 after becoming an unrestricted free agent.

The Mercury finished at the bottom of the 2023 WNBA standings with a record of 9-31. Griner played in 31 games and managed to contribute 17.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.6 blocks.

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Her season-high in 2023 was 29 points, which she achieved twice (against the Indiana Fever and Los Angeles Sparks). Her highest rebounding performance was at 11 boards, which she did three times. Known as an interior threat, Griner had three four-block games.

Since being selected first overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft, Griner has led the Mercury to a WNBA championship in 2014.

She also became a nine-time WNBA All-Star and eight-time blocks leader. Griner's presence in the paint earned her WNBA DPOY honors twice, in 2014 and 2015. The former Baylor Bear also led the league in scoring twice, in 2017 and 2019.

Brittney Griner's detainment in Russia and return to basketball

Back in February 2022, Brittney Griner made worldwide headlines after being detained at a Russian airport for drug-related charges. After 10 months of detainment and time spent in prison, she was released and made a return to the WNBA.

Her detainment coincided with Russia's invasion of Ukraine, making diplomatic efforts for her release complicated. After a series of negotiations, she was released, but it cost a high-profile prisoner exchange involving a Russian arms dealer.

"I'm no stranger to hard times," said Griner about her detainment. "You're going to be faced with adversities throughout your life, and this was a pretty big one. But I just kind of relied on my hard work. Getting through it. You find a way to just grind it out."

Since her release, Brittney Griner has been vocal about her unique experience while continuing her WNBA efforts.

"Phoenix is home. Me and my wife literally just got a place [here]. This is it," said Griner.

The story of Brittney Griner drew attention to other Americans who are detained overseas, including journalist Evan Gershkovich and US Marine Paul Whelan.

Edited by Nicolaas Ackermann
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