The Connecticut Sun are off to an impressive 7-2 start, and there are a few reasons for that.
Of most note, the return of Jonquel Jones lining up with fellow 6-footers DeWanna Bonner and Brionna Jones in the starting five has made Connecticut too big for some teams to handle on both sides of the ball.
Yet, one of its sneaky most impactful players is a small and scrappy guard: Natisha Hiedeman.
Drafted No. 18 overall in the 2019 WNBA Draft, the third-year player stepped up for the Sun last season in the bubble while they were without key contributors, and that’s been intensified this season.
The 5-foot-8 guard has been limited in Connecticut’s last two games, logging a season-low 16 minutes in a loss to the Minnesota Lynx and a win over the Las Vegas Aces. But averaging career highs in points (10.0), rebounds (2.6), assists (2.3) and steals (1.7), she has experienced a bit of a breakout year.
And if you like a good story, you’ll appreciate that Hiedeman was drafted by Connecticut, waived, picked up by the Atlanta Dream and then waived again before signing a contract with the Sun in 2020. That’s a solid chip to carry on your shoulder.
Starting five of nine games this season, she has shown flashes of a quick 3-and-D player who is incredibly scrappy. She leads the Sun with 15 steals, tied with Jonquel Jones, a former WNBA All-Defensive selection.
Hiedeman currently is Connecticut’s fourth highest scorer, behind starters Jonquel Jones, Bonner, Brionna Jones and Jasmine Thomas. But it’s more so the energy she brings to the court and her defensive contributions. That’s ever important with high-motor Alyssa Thomas recently needing to surgically repair her achilles.
There’s a lot of potential there as Hiedeman continues to earn more opportunity and works to be a more consistent shooter.
We’ll see what her usage looks like Saturday as the Sun host the New York Liberty. Tip-off is 2 p.m. ET live on NESN.