The WNBA makes its return on Saturday, July 25, with the entirety of this 22-game regular season, and the ensuing playoffs, to be played at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The Connecticut Sun get going the next day, taking on the Minnesota Lynx at 12:00 p.m. ET.
Connecticut finished 2019 with a 23-11 record, earning them second place in the Eastern Conference. After a stellar playoff run, the Sun came one game shy of claiming their first-ever WNBA title, falling to Elena Delle Donne and the Washington Mystics in an epic five-game battle.
But that was last year’s roster, before free agency, a string of trades and players opting-out of the season impacted this year’s lineup.
Still, there’s plenty of reasons to look forward to the Sun’s 2020 campaign. Here’s four:
1. DeWanna Bonner is an ‘X’ factor.
Connecticut acquired Bonner on Feb. 11 in a sign-and-trade deal for three first-round draft picks. And ESPN believes she will prove to be one of the most impactful newcomers in the entire league.
The 6-foot-4 forward has a decade of experience (including two WNBA championships) under her belt, which will be invaluable to the Sun in pursuit of their first-ever WNBA title. She was named a WNBA All-Star the last two seasons, too, so it doesn’t look like she plans on slowing down any time soon.
2. Disrespect fuels this team.
Remember the “disrespeCT” social media campaign the team ran last year after feeling slighted by WNBA analysts? Well, that chip on the Sun’s shoulders helped propel the team to the Finals in 2019.
And now, with Jonquel Jones opting-out of the season and a number of offseason moves, the Sun will be without three of its five starters from 2019. And because of that, expectations for this year do not include another run to the Finals. So no, in a shortened season, the Sun won’t have as much time to build up chemistry. But if last year taught us anything, it’s that the Sun play well when they’re trying to get some respect on their name.
3. Atlanta Dream games suddenly just got interesting.
The Sun take on the Dream twice in 2020, which is particularly notable considering former Connecticut starters Courtney Williams and Shekinna Stricklen currently call Atlanta home. Williams was dealt to Atlanta in a trade that brought Briann January to Connecticut while Stricklen signed with the squad in free agency.
But will the Sun rise to the occasion to show their former teammates what they’re missing?
4. Brionna Jones and Bria Holmes could be wild cards for Connecticut.
Acquired in the 2017 draft, Brionna Jones has shown flashes of her potential in three seasons with the Sun. This year, however, she likely will have a much larger role at forward due to Jonquel Jones’ absence. Holmes, who joined Connecticut in 2018, likely will do the same after coming off the bench in 2019 to assist the Sun in their playoff run.
Expect both women to step up to the plate in 2020.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images