The Phoenix Mercury underwent quite a few changes leading up to the 2024 WNBA season. Perhaps the biggest change was new ownership in the form of Mat Ishbia. One of Ishbia's first tasks was to hire a new head coach. Ishbia looked to the NBA ranks for the Mercury's next head coach in Nate Tibbetts. Tibbetts is new to the WNBA but according to longtime star Diana Taurasi, he's already leaving his mark on the team, as per Shane Young of Forbes Sports.

“Coach came in with a certain mindset and certain style of play,” Taurasi said. “You can only get to that point when you really teach the principles well and he's been able to do that. There's certain things he wants from us and we've responded well to it. Obviously, he wants to play fast and shoot a lot of threes. And to push the pace on both ends. I think he gives us a lot of energy.”

This style of play is well-suited to the modern game which is more up-tempo with high-powered offenses. In the early goings of the regular season, Nate Tibbetts has coached the Mercury to a 3-1 record including a win over the defending champion Las Vegas Aces. While there may have been questions regarding his preparedness for the league without any prior WNBA experience, those questions have been seemingly answered for the time being.

Tibbetts joined the Mercury after spending the past two seasons as an assistant in the NBA with the Orlando Magic. Before that he severed as an assistant with both the Portland Trail Blazers and the Cleveland Cavaliers. He got his start in coaching professional basketball in the G League in 2005 with the Sioux Falls Skyforce as an assistant and ultimately head coach. He also served as head coach for the then Tulsa 66ers.

Mercury off to a great start behind retooled roster

Mercury guard Diana Taurasi drives up the court past Mystics guard Julie Vanloo (32) during a game at the Footprint Center in Phoenix at Thursday, May 23, 2024.
Patrick Breen-The Republic-USA TODAY Sports

The Mercury came into this season looking to make some changes in order to compete with the upper echelon of the WNBA. While they've been without Brittney Griner to start this season due to injury, those new additions have helped them stay afloat and at the top of the Western Conference standings.

One of those new additions was former Finals MVP Kahleah Copper who was acquired in a trade with the Chicago Sky. While the Mercury gave up key depth in Michaela Onyewere and Brianna Turner as well as a few draft picks, the deal has so far been worth it.

Copper is averaging a career-high 28.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 steals with splits of 50.6 percent shooting from the field, 46.7 percent shooting from the three-point line and 87 percent shooting from the free-throw line. She posted back-to-back games of 38 points and 37 points last weekend.

Another key addition for the Mercury has been Natasha Cloud who has formed a solid backcourt with Diana Taurasi. Cloud signed as a free agent in the offseason after playing the first seven years of her career with the Washington Mystics. Cloud's shooting percentages may be down this season but she's averaging 11.5 points and 8.0 assists.