2019 was a season to remember for the Connecticut Sun. After being defeated in Round 2 of the Playoffs in both 2017 and 2018, the Sun broke through and made their first appearance in the WNBA Finals since 2005. Although the Sun were defeated in Game 5 of a thrilling WNBA Finals 2019, their progress in 2019 bodes well for the future.
Considering this, let’s take a look back at the Sun’s 2019 season in review.
Leaders: Points (J. Jones, 14.6); Rebounds (J. Jones, 9.7); Assists (J. Thomas, 5.1); Steals (A. Thomas, 1.9); Blocks (J. Jones, 2)
The Connecticut Sun took the term “home-court advantage” to another level in 2019. The Sun posted their best home record since 2011, finishing with a 15-2 regular season record when playing at Mohegan Sun Arena. With 15 of their 23 wins coming at home, the Sun posted an 8-9 record away from Mohegan Sun Arena. With the team consistently being one of the best teams in the league the past few seasons, it’s clear that the fanbase has rallied around the Sun. Their recent success, along with the fact that the Sun is one of the few major professional sports teams in the state of Connecticut, makes Mohegan Sun Arena one of the most difficult places to play in the WNBA.
Jonquel Jones Bounces Back
Selected No. 6 overall in the 2016 WNBA Draft, Jonquel Jones quickly became accustomed to the league. In just her second season, Jones was named both a WNBA All-Star and a member of the All-WNBA Second Team. A year removed from this, Jones saw a dip in her production as she started only 16 of 34 games in 2018. This past season, Jones returned to form, averaging a team-high 14.6 points and 9.7 rebounds per game while starting all 34 games. In addition to being named an All-Star and member of the All-WNBA Second Team for the second time in her career, Jones was also named to the WNBA All-Defensive First Team and led the league in both total rebounds and blocks. The highlight of Jones’ spectacular season came in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals 2019. In a series-tying win against the Washington Mystics, Jones recorded 32 points and 18 rebounds, becoming the first player to ever record a 30-15 game in the WNBA Finals. Her production in 2019 showcased why she should be considered one of the best players in the league.
After back-to-back seasons resulting in Round 2 exits, the Sun came into the 2019 postseason with a chip on their shoulder. “Small Market. No Mega-Stars. No One Thought We’d Make It This Far,” these were the words the Sun released in a video posted on their social channels ahead of the Semifinals. The video came along with a new hashtag – disrespeCT – which was directed at the criticism the team had received over the past few years while also making it unique to the team by capitalizing the “CT” to emphasize the state’s initials. After the Sun’s Game 2 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks, guard Courtney Williams poked fun at the criticism the team took by saying “Tell ’em a bunch of role players did that!” For the Sun, it was evident that the team rallied around this slogan and bought into the underdog mentality throughout their playoff run. They didn’t need a mega-star or the attention driven by playing in a large market. Instead, the Sun came together and played as a team, resulting in one of the best seasons in franchise history.
As heartbreaking as a Game 5 loss in the WNBA Finals can be, the future of the Connecticut Sun shines bright. With the core of their lineup under contract in 2020, the Sun will be returning much of the same team that came just one game short of winning their first title in franchise history. In 2020, the Sun will get Layshia Clarendon back on the court after only playing in nine games last season due to an ankle injury. The addition of Clarendon will provide veteran experience and expanded depth to an already impressive and deep roster. Along with this, the Sun will also look to build further depth through the Draft, where they possess two first round picks (Nos. 10 and 11) as a result of trading Chiney Ogwumike to Los Angeles last offseason. For a team that came just one game short of winning the title, there’s a lot of room for optimism in 2020.