Bonner’s Selflessness Invaluable for Mercury

By Ben York,
Posted: August 6, 2014

Over the course of her career, no other Phoenix Mercury player has had to sacrifice more for the betterment of the team than DeWanna Bonner.

But for Bonner, she hasn’t “sacrificed” anything; it’s just part of being an exceptional teammate.

“I mean, my role is really just doing whatever the team or Sandy [Brondello] needs me to do,” Bonner said. “And I’m happy to do that whether it is on the offensive end or on defense. To me, the most important thing is winning.”

When she erupted onto the scene as a rookie in 2009, Bonner was the ultimate force off the bench for the Mercury en route to winning her first of three consecutive Sixth Woman of the Year awards (2009, 2010, 2011). Bonner averaged nearly identical numbers each of her first three seasons in the league (about 11 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes).

In 2012, however, she was forced to take on a much bigger role due to injuries, and she responded brilliantly. While starting just nine total games in her first three seasons combined, Bonner started all 32 games she played in during the 2012 season, playing 35 minutes per game. Bonner doubled her scoring output to 20.6 points in 2012 while grabbing a career-high 7.2 rebounds each night.

The following year, in 2013, Bonner willingly took a small step back due to the addition of 6-8 center Brittney Griner. That is to say, Bonner averaged over 18 shot attempts per game in 2012 and she scaled that back to just 11.5 in 2013. Nevertheless, her numbers remained more than solid (14.5 points, 5.8 rebounds) and she was just as valuable to the success of the team as she was during each season when she took home Sixth Woman of the Year.

This season, with a loaded Mercury squad who has already set a single-season franchise-record for victories with their 24th win of the season with six games remaining, Bonner has once again modified her game – this time on both ends of the floor.

In 2014, Bonner has set career-highs in defensive rating (97) and steals percentage (2.8) while also shooting a career-high 47 percent from the field. Additionally, Bonner is averaging three fewer shot attempts this season (8.2) compared to 11.5 in 2013.

“DB [DeWanna Bonner] has always been like that,” Diana Taurasi said. “Since she’s been here she’s been such an important part of what we’re trying to do. She’s willing to do whatever it takes to win. It says a lot about her because she could easily be one of the top few scorers in the league as we saw a couple years ago.”

Bonner has both played and guarded nearly every position on the floor for the Mercury in 2014. With her unique combination of size and athleticism, Bonner’s versatility is invaluable in Brondello’s system.

“I’ve said from the start of training camp that DeWanna [Bonner] is critical to the success of our team,” Brondello added. “She’s so versatile. But more than that she’s fearless. She’ll guard the opposing team’s point guard or center.

“When she is on, it makes us a tough team to beat.”