2020 was a turbulent year, especially for the Connecticut Sun.
The team took on a brand new look, both by design and by accident. Then, COVID-19 hit, leading the league to develop a single-city bubble at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Connecticut’s “Wubble” experience got off to a rough start, but the Sun dropped jaws with one heck of a midseason turnaround. They even came one win shy of the WNBA finals, but ultimately fell to the Las Vegas Aces in a thrilling five-game series.
A lot went into Connecticut’s crazy year. Here are the five storylines that defined it:
A brand new look
This was not the same Sun squad that dominated the East in 2019.
Only six of twelve players returned to Connecticut in 2020. The starting five took a particularly big hit, with Shekinna Stricklen and Courtney Williams joining the Atlanta Dream in February and Jonquel Jones opting out of the season.
The Sun eventually overcame this, thanks largely to a strong effort from DeWanna Bonner in her first season with the team. Briann January and rookies Kaila Charles and Beatrice Mompremier also stepped up as newcomers, providing some solid minutes on both ends of the court.
Connecticut had to make do with the cards it was dealt. But it didn’t wind up being so bad after all.
No Jonquel Jones
Jones opted out of the season June 22, and for good reason. But it was a significant loss for the Sun, to say the least.
The star center decided to forgo the season to “focus on personal, social, and familial growth.” That left a gaping hole in the starting five, especially following the departures of Stricklen and Williams.
Jones was perhaps the Sun’s biggest star in 2019, averaging 14.6 points, 9.7 rebounds and two blocks per game. Her impressive efforts on both ends of the court earned her a spot on the All-Star team, the All-WNBA First Defensive Team and the All-WNBA Second Team.
Luckily, the Sun managed to fill that massive gap better than most expected.
DeWanna Bonner dazzles
Bonner was a stud in 2020, giving Connecticut a boost when it needed it most.
The 33-year-old put together one of her most successful seasons to date, averaging 19.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, three assists and 1.7 steals per game. She was the leading scorer for the Sun during the regular season and averaged the second-most rebounds per game on the team, trailing Alyssa Thomas by just over one board a contest.
But her success went beyond her stat line. Bonner was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week twice in the six-week season and earned a spot on the All-WNBA Second Team, too.
All of that success helped Connecticut go on its impressive run to the Eastern Conference finals.
A Cinderella story
The Sun had a rather rough start to the year, but quickly turned things around.
Connecticut went 0-5 to start the season as the team tried to find its footing. The initial lack of chemistry set the team back a bit, but they finally gained some momentum in early August before finally breaking even in early September.
The Sun ranked seventh among the 12 teams, landing them a spot in the postseason. And that’s where they truly shined.
Connecticut was much more successful in the playoffs, dominating the No. 6 Chicago Sky and No. 3 Los Angeles Sparks before taking on the first-ranked Aces in the semifinals. Connecticut took a surprising a 2-1 series lead, but Las Vegas clawed its way back to win the five-game set and move on to the finals.
Any loss is tough to swallow, especially in the playoffs. But the Sun did what few thought possible with a roster many underestimated, and that is an accomplishment in and of itself.