During the Phoenix Mercury’s matchup against the Las Vegas Aces on May 21, Shey Peddy took a hard landing directly onto her back, and #WNBATwitter held its breath for a moment. There were almost immediate pleas for her to be okay and call outs for prayers. The people behind the keyboards not only knew that another injury for an already depleted Mercury team would be brutal but also were keenly aware of how much Peddy means to the team and how hard she has worked to find a home in the league.
In 2012, Peddy was a standout at Temple University who was taken in the second round of the WNBA draft by the Chicago Sky. As is the case for many draftees, she was cut in training camp and opted to play overseas. The following year was more of the same: another camp invite (this time by the Washington Mystics) and another roster cut. This time she remained overseas to play and made a successful career out of it, becoming a three-time MVP of the German league.
It wasn’t until 2019 that the WNBA came calling again. Peddy received a training camp invite from the Washington Mystics, but this opportunity resulted in another roster cut. However, the team had a roster spot become available later in the season and signed Peddy to a hardship contract. She then made her league debut at the age of 30, only to be cut a few weeks later.
Even though they cut her again, the Mystics were impressed enough with what Peddy brought to the team to make her a part of the coaching staff. She stayed on with Washington through the season as an intern while the Mystics made their championship run.
The next season, the 2020 bubble year, had a familiar refrain. Washington signed Peddy to a roster spot but ended up releasing her early in the season. However, the Phoenix Mercury were there to claim her off waivers this time. It worked out that season as she was a decent contributor to a team bound for the playoffs, during which Peddy hit a buzzer-beater to end her former team’s season.
GUYS!! The Washington Mystics CUT Phoenix Mercury guard Shey Peddy a month ago, and tonight Peddy hit her first-ever game-winning shot AT THE BUZZER to knock her former team out of the playoffs in the 85-84 thriller! IM SHOOK pic.twitter.com/4kLvgXD8hq
— Carrie Oehm (she/her) (@Coehmer) September 16, 2020
Skipping ahead to 2022, Peddy is now firmly entrenched in the Mercury organization. In the aftermath of her near legendary performance in the 2021 playoffs that helped send Phoenix back to the WNBA Finals after a seven-year drought, Shey has carved out a role as a do-it-all backup guard who can be relied upon for a steady hand on offense and disruption on defense.
That reliability is important for an organization experiencing a great deal of change and uncertainty this year. As the Mercury try to figure it out with this new group, they have been wildly inconsistent so far this year. They have been particularly unpredictable on defense, earning a defensive rating of 87.6 during wins but a league-worst 112.3 in their losses.
In addition to their issues on defense, offensive challenges also persist for the Mercury, who are in the midst of a six-game losing streak. They sit in the bottom half of the league in points, three-point percentage, and assists. The team’s offensive struggles are also evident when watching the games as Phoenix lacks ball movement at times and settles for low-percentage field goal attempts outside the lane.
Defensive consistency and ball movement on offense are areas where the Mercury missed Peddy the most during her absence following her recent back injury. Despite missing two games, she still leads the team in Win Shares (according to BasketballReference.com). Her presence on the court, especially during the team’s two wins thus far in 2022, has been important to create turnovers on defense and get the ball in the paint on offense. In fact, almost a quarter of Peddy’s field goal attempts are coming within three feet of the basket (according to BasketballReference.com), showing that she takes advantage of the space and attention that defenses give to All-Stars like Tina Charles, Diana Taurasi, and Skylar Diggins-Smith.
— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) May 20, 2022
HALFTIME in Phoenix!
— WNBA (@WNBA) May 20, 2022
What doesn’t get covered in the stat book is the locker room impact that Shey Peddy has on this Mercury organization. Back in 2021 when the team was celebrating their trip to the Finals, an emotional Diggins-Smith gave high praise to her teammate: “She just works so hard. We’re in the gym every day, and even when my confidence is down, she just pushes me. She’s just a great teammate. She already knows how I feel about her.”
Skylar Diggins-Smith talking about Shey Peddy in the postgame conference got me misty, not gonna lie pic.twitter.com/3bzhhrNllk
— Lyndsey D'Arcangelo (@darcangel21) October 9, 2021
It’s tough to find anyone who has a bad thing to say about Peddy (as my extensive Twitter search history will confirm). Just her ability to get into this league took the kind of grit and perseverance that is hard for others in the WNBA to ignore. Additionally, she’s put in the work to not only earn the roster spot but also become an almost indispensable part of a team that is fresh off a WNBA Finals run and looking to find success despite the absence of a cornerstone player in Brittney Griner.
During this challenging season, Shey Peddy’s trademark floaters and hustle defense are a couple things the Phoenix Mercury desperately need.
Unless otherwise noted, stats appear courtesy of WNBA Stats.