WNBA

Mitchell Brings Much-Needed Glue to Sun

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Last week, the Connecticut Sun acquired guard Tiffany Mitchell from the Minnesota Lynx for Natisha Hiedeman and the 19th pick in the 2024 draft.

What does this mean for the Sun?

While they part ways with the enthusiastic southpaw point guard, Connecticut gains a proven stingy defender as well as a player who can create her own shot offensively in Mitchell. Mitchell’s one season in Minnesota last year did not yield massive offensive numbers, but the Sun are banking on a resurgence and a return to the player she was in Indiana for so many years.

The trade also brings a reunion between Mitchell and head coach Stephanie White who was the head coach of the Indiana Fever when Tiffany was drafted ninth overall in the 2016 WNBA Draft. “I was in Indiana when we drafted Tiff and it’s been fun to watch her career unfold,” White discussed following the trade. “I’m excited to be on the same sideline with her again. She’s a competitor and fits the grit and toughness that permeates our franchise.”

The Hiedeman trade suggests a changing of the true point-guard position. Guard Tyasha Harris‘ usage and minutes increased throughout the season and into the postseason. Harris shot a scorching 46.4% from three on the season and is capable of playing on or off the ball which bodes well for a team that still has Alyssa Thomas.

The Connecticut Sun, coming off another dominant regular season (27-13), unfortunately fell short in the playoffs, leaving their fans and franchise with more questions than answers. For a team that has amassed 153 wins and has not finished less than third in the Eastern Conference since 2017, the absence of a WNBA Championship trophy is glaring.

Even without their two-time All-Star Brionna Jones, who ruptured her Achilles tendon early in the season, the Sun still managed to remain in the top five in all major offensive statistical categories, including points and assists per game, field-goal and three-point percentage.

Unfortunately, signs of trouble for the Sun emerged when watching Connecticut in games against offensive juggernauts like the New York Liberty and Las Vegas Aces. While Alyssa Thomas has an uncanny ability to score around the basket in addition to setting the table for her teammates, DeWanna Bonner was really the only player who could create her own shots off the bounce.

Even in wins, Connecticut struggled offensively against length and athleticism and when coupled with the elite scoring (like New York and Las Vegas), the proof is in the pudding: Versus the Aces and Liberty, the Sun were 2-9, allowing 86.3 points per game (including the playoffs) and averaged 79.6 points per game on 43% from the field.

With Tiffany Hayes announcing her retirement from the WNBA last December, Connecticut is in the market for someone who can knock down open shots and lock down defensively, both of which Mitchell can do.

The Sun have four picks in the 2024 draft (pick Nos. 10, 19, 22 & 34), and are in a unique position to continue to bolster their roster through not only free agency and the draft, but potentially leveraging the picks in a trade offer. Things are starting to heat up at Mohegan Sun Arena.

About Johnell Pannell

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