The Connecticut Sun have secured a double-round bye, locking up the WNBA’s No. 1 seed with just two games left in the season after winning 12 straight.
And while they await the semifinals, it appears they’ll be working one of their best players into the mix.
Alyssa Thomas, miraculously, already is practicing after having surgery to repair her Achilles tendon in January. Nine months later, she’s listed as “probable” on Connecticut’s injury report for the penultimate game of the regular season.
Should she make a return, the WNBA’s best defense will get even harder to handle.
Last season for Connecticut, she averaged 15.5 points, 9.0 rebounds (third in league), 4.8 assists and 2.0 steals (first in league) and was named to the WNBA’s All-Defensive First Team.
The biggest question now is how she’ll bounce back from a major injury. The second biggest question is about how they’ll use her.
All season, watching Jonquel Jones and DeWanna Bonner play alongside each other, fans wondered what could have been if Alyssa Thomas had been playing all season.
But with Brionna Jones’ breakout year and Briann January’s defensive presence, their current starting five rounded out by point guard Jasmine Thomas has gotten them this far.
Connecticut would be wise to bring Alyssa Thomas in off the bench as she reintegrates herself to the pace of playoff ball. It would allow the Sun more depth and defense in their second unit, and make sure she doesn’t push things too soon.
But one thing is for certain: if Alyssa Thomas looks even remotely like her old self, the rest of the WNBA should be terrified.
— Jonquel Jones’s odds to win the WNBA Most Valuable Player award have skyrocketed at -550, with Seattle Storm star Breanna Steward her closest competition at +800, per DraftKings Sportsbook.
“Honestly, I think it just feels like we’re clicking at the right time,” Jonquel Jones said about Connecticut’s win streak. “We’re peaking at the right time. Sometimes you peak early in the season, sometimes you peak like a little bit in the middle. I think we’re peaking at the right time. The tempo that we’re playing is really good. Our defense is locked in every night. Everybody’s contributing and it’s just really hard to stop.”
— Connecticut’s chances to win the championship aren’t quite as much of a lock as Jonquel Jones’, but they’re the favorite at +135 after pulling ahead of the Las Vegas Aces and Seattle Storm, per DraftKings.
— Whoever is in charge of lobbying for WNBA awards at the Sun’s headquarters should consider a career in political campaigns. Connecticut sent reporters marketing materials to campaign for Jonquel Jones, Brionna Jones and Briann January and the visuals are fantastic.
— During the Sun’s most recent win against the Phoenix Mercury, DeWanna Bonner moved up to No. 16 on the WNBA’s All-Time rebounding list. Teammate Jonquel Jones leads the league in boards per game this season.
— After a game against the New York Liberty on Wednesday, Connecticut remains at home to host the Atlanta Dream on Sunday in their final game of the regular season.
Tip off between the Sun and Liberty is 7 p.m. ET.