Skylar Diggins-Smith was heard begging her coach to bench her during a poor shooting performance
- Skylar Diggins-Smith shot just 22% from the floor against the New York Liberty on Sunday.
- After her final missed shot of the game, the Phoenix Mercury star begged her coach to bench her.
Skylar Diggins-Smith lost her patience while playing against the New York Liberty this weekend.
The Phoenix Mercury superstar struggled with her shot throughout Sunday's contest at the Barclays Center. And despite playing 35 minutes on the afternoon, she still found herself on the court with her team down 16 points at the tail end of the fourth quarter.
So when she missed her 14th of 18 attempts on the day, with just over a minute remaining, Diggins-Smith felt her frustration boil over.
"Please take me out!" she could be heard yelling as she ran back on defense.
"Please!" the six-time WNBA All-Star begged, turning towards head coach Vanessa Nygaard and clapping her hands.
On the following play, New York guard Crystal Dangerfield blew past Diggins-Smith and found All-Star Natasha Howard for an easy two points. Only then did Nygaard take a timeout and pull her starting point guard from the game.
Check out the entire sequence below:
Though they recruited eight-time WNBA All-Star and 2012 MVP Tina Charles onto their roster, the Mercury weren't able to covert their impressive star power into wins. They lost eight of their first 10 contests — including racking up seven straight losses, one of which saw Diggins-Smith and WNBA legend Diana Taurasi engage in a heated courtside exchange that forced their fellow teammates to physically intervene.
With a limited window remaining in which to compete for a title, the 33-year-old Charles left the team via a contract divorce in late June. And even as Diggins-Smith helped the team pull itself back to a more palatable 10-14 record ahead of July's All-Star break, rumors swirled that Phoenix's leader in points and assists might be shipped out of The Valley.
But a trade package never came to fruition. Diggins-Smith has not only remained with the Mercury to this point, but she's carried the team into contention for a potential, once-seemingly-improbable playoff berth.
With less than two weeks remaining in the regular season, the 32-year-old ranks fourth in points per game, seventh in assists per game, seventh in steals per game, and 10th in player efficiency rating league-wide. But whether she'll be able to carry Phoenix to the postseason still remains to be seen; Diggins-Smith and company currently sit at seventh in the WNBA standings — just one game ahead of the next three teams vying for a playoff spot.
Only eight teams earn bids to the postseason, and five teams have already secured their spots.
But at this rate, even if the Mercury hold on to one of the three remaining bids, Diggins-Smith may not have enough gas to continue fueling the team. The 2022 MVP candidate leads the entire league with a whopping 34.1 minutes per game, a statistic that's clearly relevant to her Sunday afternoon quarrel with Nygaard.
It's no wonder that, during the waning minutes of a game that was already out of hand, Diggins-Smith would lobby her coach to give her some rest. It's the responsible move for a team that'll need every bit of energy it can muster to earn its ninth consecutive postseason appearance.
Nygaard's squad will take on the Connecticut Sun on the road Thursday before returning to Phoenix to host the Liberty.
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