The Connecticut Sun has developed a skill to exceed expectations in the face of adversity. From the team’s 2019 WNBA Finals to its grim performance in the 2020 bubble and now a 14-6 record in the 2021 Olympic break, the Sun is only continuing to force the conversation, despite the absence of key players.
If a team lacks such players – in this case Jonquel Jones (2020) and Alyssa Thomas (2021) – there is usually an improvement in the home and / or a next man-up mentality needed to give the team its level of to maintain players. . For the Sun, look no further than Brionna Jones – a player who, when Connecticut wanted to replace the production of its stars, took the opportunity to keep her team going while utilizing her game in a great individual achievement.
Jones, a 3-yard center, entered her fourth season with the Sun in 2020 when it was rumored that the eternal All-Star and talented Jonquel Jones would not be joining the team in the Bradenton bubble. For Brionna Jones, this means not only a move to the starting lineup, but a solid increase in minutes in a team that was far from the deepest WNBA.
Jones responded by posting by far the best figures of her young career, more than doubled her typical total playing time while achieving an average of career bests in points (11.9), rebounds (6.9) and steals (1.7). It was a remarkable leap for someone who got used to playing behind star-level talent, and Jones was rewarded with a new contract during the subsequent free agency period.
Just as Jones used her previous opportunity in 2020 to move from a frugal banker to a consistent, full-time starter, she has once again stepped up her game in 2021, this time to that of a player whose strengths are provided in her team’s game plans.
“If you have [Alyssa Thomas] It can help create pace. “Sometimes we didn’t slow down and play enough by Bri Jones,” said Connecticut head coach Curt Miller said of previous Sun teams. ‘[Jones] was always able. With the loss of Thomas, we knew we would have to play at a slower pace, and that we would be able to support it. ‘
It’s true: Jones’ fingerprints are about Connecticut’s success in 2021. The team has slowed down considerably and preferred to play more through Jones in the post and play deeper in the lap clock than in previous seasons, which is reflected in the Sun’s. WNBA-least 76 possessions per 40 minutes. These possessions, as Miller alluded to them, emphasize Jones more than ever: she is currently trying a career highlight 18.3 field goals per 100 possessions which in turn led to a further jump in points (15 points per game).
Jones also made a huge impact on the glass – which is probably less surprising to those familiar with her game. While it’s currently Jonquel Jones lead the WNBA in individual setbacks (11.1 per game), Brionna Jones’ presence – usually with a strong goal scorer – is just as important as that of her teammate. With Brionna Jones in court, the Sun ensures 76.5 percent of the available defense resistance; if she is on the bench, the number drops to 70.4 percent.
In plain English: The Sun owes much to their advantage in the paint and on the boards, which happen to be Jones’ two biggest strengths. It is no coincidence.
People in the WNBA also took note of Jones’ improved play. She was named an All-Star for the first time in her career, to earn the final coach’s choice after a preliminary vote, player and media vote. The honor has advanced far in a league dominated by its greats; center is the most stacked position in the WNBA, and Jones has carved out her own niche among the best of the best. This is something to admire.
Can the Sun’s formula of slow, corrupt basketball win a championship? Stranger things happened. Connecticut may seem dusted off by some WNBA teams with bigger names on their rankings, but the Sun has already defeated the Las Vegas Aces (which are currently a half-game ahead of Connecticut in the standings) twice by successfully uniting the game. While the Sun is not missing their ultimate goal this season, there will be renewed hope for the immediate future: Jonquel Jones, DeWanna Bonner and Alyssa Thomas will all be active at the same time, and Brionna Jones will join them. , which has quietly but steadily become one of the most effective centers of the WNBA.