As the end of 2021 draws near, WNBA.com is wrapping up the 25th season by recapping each team’s season. Take a look back at notable contributors and season highlights with the 2021 Season In Review. Next up is the Connecticut Sun.
After missing the WNBA Finals last season, the Connecticut Sun came back on a mission to win a WNBA Championship. Connecticut returned their core veteran group, including Jonquel Jones who sat out the 2020 season, but unfortunately were without Alyssa Thomas most of the season who was recovering from an Achilles injury. The Sun were a force to be reckoned with on both ends of the floor, resulting in a record-breaking season.
At the beginning of the season, the Sun felt disrespeCTed, with many not viewing them as a top-seeded team. Nevertheless, in typical Sun fashion, they proved everyone wrong and went 14-6 in the first half of the season, qualifying for the Commissioner’s Cup Championship as the best team in the East.
🚨 CLINCHED 🚨
— WNBA (@WNBA) July 10, 2021
After losing to the Seattle Storm in the Commissioner’s Cup Championship, 79-57 the Sun responded by finishing the second half of the season on a 14-game win streak (the longest win streak to end a regular season in WNBA history), which translated to the fewest losses in franchise history.
What a way to finish the regular season 🙌
— WNBA (@WNBA) September 19, 2021
The team’s gritty defense was the main ingredient to the Sun’s success, as the team had the number one overall defensive rating (91.7) and held teams to a league-low 69.9 points per game, the lowest scoring average allowed in a decade. In addition all five of the Sun’s starters held the top five spots in individual defensive win shares. The second ingredient was offensive power, from the team’s core including powerhouse Jonquel Jones and the breakout season of Brionna Jones. The Sun earned the league’s second-best rated offense. These ingredients mixed together led them to a best, 26-6 record and No. 1 seed for the Playoffs.
All starting with defense for the Sun and it leads to a Bonner and-1 triple 💥
— WNBA (@WNBA) August 17, 2021
In the Semifinals series, the Sun were defeated 3-1 by the eventual WNBA Champions, the Chicago Sky. While Connecticut didn’t get the championship ending they hoped for, the Sun still have plenty to be proud of.
Other than setting franchise and WNBA history, the Sun dominated postseason awards. Jonquel Jones was awarded MVP (19.4 PPG), Brionna Jones earned MIP (career-high 14.7 PPG) and Curt Miller was named Coach of the Year.
With the majority of the core returning next season, the Sun will look to capture the franchise’s first Championship.
After opting out of the 2020 season Jonquel Jones didn’t return to her All-Star self… she returned ever better. The 6-6 forward, was a complete threat on all three levels, shooting 51.5% from the field and 36.2% 3PM, compared to 44.8% FGM and 30.9% 3PM in 2019. Her ability to shoot the three earned her a spot in the Mountain Dew Three-Point Contest at the AT&T All-Star game, where she also picked up her third All-Star nod. Despite losing to Allie Quigley, she had a sensational performance in the first round with 27 points.
💰 Jonquel Jones 💰
— WNBA (@WNBA) July 16, 2021
Not only did Jonquel increase her shooting, but she also increased her rebounding from 9.7 (2019) to 11.2 (2021). As a result, the rebounding machine, who outrebounded the whole Mystics team on June 29th (only the second time in league history a player has outrebounded an entire team), was named the 2021 rebounding leader for the third time in Jonquel’s career.
— WNBA (@WNBA) June 29, 2021
Without Jonquel, the team would not have had a successful regular season, as her ability to dominate on both ends of the floor was the difference-maker. She led the WNBA in win shares and defensive efficiency and was one of two players that averaged a double-double this season (65% of JJ games). This success resulted in many awards.
The fifth-year forward earned the coveted MVP award, becoming the first Bahamian woman to win the award and the first time a player has won all three awards (MVP, MIP, and 6POTY) in their career. Additionally, she was named to first-team All-WNBA and All-Defense and earned the Peak Performer award. Jonquel was named Player of the Month three times and Player of the Week four times in the regular season.
MIP (2017) ▶ SWOTY (2018) ▶ MVP (2021)
— WNBA (@WNBA) September 28, 2021
Once viewed as an underdog in the league, Jonquel has put in the work, adding to her game each year, becoming one of the WNBA’s most lethal threats.
Speaking of Jones, Jonquel’s frontcourt partner, Brionna Jones also had an excellent season. Brionna’s breakout season started in 2020 with her playing time at a career-high, but it was this season that she emerged as a full-blown star. The forward increased her points and rebounds per game from 11.2 & 5.6 (2020) to 14.7 & 7.3 (2021). Brionna made herself a threat inside the paint with her tenacious scoring and her ability to be a menace around the offensive boards. She ranked second in offensive rebounding and eighth in steals this season.
Brionna put on a show night in and night out, and showed everyone why she is a low-post threat. She was awarded for her dominant season with an All-Star nod, second-team All-Defensive, and won the WNBA Most Improved Player award. On July 1st against the Indiana Fever, she had a career-high game in points with 34 and a career-high in rebounds, with 15 against the Los Angeles Sparks on Aug. 28th.
The 2x WNBA Champion, DeWanna Bonner had another successful season with the Connecticut Sun. In just her second year with the Sun, she averaged 15.2 PPG and 6.4 RPG, and was named a 2021 WNBA All-Star, the fourth time in her career. Her leadership and grittiness continued to be essential ingredients to the Sun’s success this season. On August 19th, Bonner dropped a season-high 31 points and shot 58.8%.
Four Sun Players Earn All-Defensive Honors
The Sun’s elite defense earned them four WNBA All-Defensive team selections: Jonquel Jones and Briann January (First-Team), Jasmine Thomas, and Brionna Jones (Second-Team). This was the first time in WNBA history that four players from one team were named to the All-Defensive team.
GOOOD Defense = @jaszthomas's BUCKET 🎯
📺 ESPN pic.twitter.com/jHHYsx0eXf
— WNBA (@WNBA) October 7, 2021
Winning Three Post-Season Awards
Jonquel won Most Valuable Player after averaging 19.4 PPG (No.4 in points for WNBA), 11.2 RPG (2021 rebound leader). Brionna Jones earned Most Improved Player after averaging career highs (14.7 points, 7.3 rebounds). Finally, Curt Miller was named Coach of the Year after leading the Sun to their most successful season, yet. This is the first time in franchise history that the team has won all three awards in one season.
Soak it in 🎉
— WNBA (@WNBA) September 28, 2021
14-Game Win Streak
The Connecticut Sun finished the regular season in a record-breaking fashion with a 14-game win streak. making franchise history.
What a season 👏 @ConnecticutSun
⏪ Rewind to their top highlights from their 14-game win streak before their #WNBAPlayoffs semis showdown tomorrow vs. Sky
📺 ESPN2 ⏰ 8pm/ET pic.twitter.com/2lJ9mjTIld
— WNBA (@WNBA) September 27, 2021