Sun

Sun’s Early Season Award Candidates

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“The Engine” is back. One month into the season, Alyssa Thomas is establishing herself as an early MVP candidate. In the WNBA, we’ve seen a few different players recently suffer an Achilles injury and return to play great basketball soon after. This season, Thomas has joined the likes of Breanna Stewart and Kelsey Plum in that category.

She was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month in May, after averaging 15.8 points, eight rebounds, 4.9 assists, and two steals per game. According to a press release from the organization, she’s just the third Sun player to ever receive the honor, joining Tina Charles and Jonquel Jones.

Ms. Do It All

Thomas is the do everything player for the Sun, minus shooting from beyond the arc (thanks to those pesky labrums). She’s your typical stat sheet stuffer, and someone you would want on your fantasy team. While she’s not near the top of the league in points scored, she impacts the game in so many other ways. In the second matchup with the Las Vegas Aces, Thomas recorded 16 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, and two steals in the win. This was the third 15+ points, 12+ rebounds, 5+ assists, 2+ steals game of her career. That’s good for the third most all time, behind Candace Parker, with 16, and Tamika Catchings, with seven. (Courtesy of Across the Timeline)

The biggest knock on Thomas’ case right now would probably be the turnovers. She’s averaging 3.1 per game. However, with a usage rate of 22.3%, turnovers are bound to happen. Still, Thomas will likely need to take care of the ball a little better to strengthen her MVP case.

Keep in mind that voters usually factor team success into their decision of who to vote for when it comes to the MVP. The last time a player won the MVP award and was on a team that was worse than the third best team in the league was in 2008. That was when Candace Parker first asserted her dominance in the WNBA. The Sparks were technically tied for third place, but there were two teams tied for first and two also tied for second. If the Sun continue to be a top team in the league, that bodes well for their MVP candidates.

Back To Back?

Speaking of other MVP candidates, as long as Jonquel Jones is on the court, she’s one of them. Even though her numbers are a bit down from last year’s MVP campaign, it doesn’t take much for a player like Jones to get rolling. However, voter fatigue is real. Since she was the MVP in 2021, she would have to go nuclear to win it again this year. In the history of the WNBA, only once has a player won the award in back-to-back years. It was the first two years of the league in 1997 and 1998, when Cynthia Cooper won it.

The Reigning MIP Wants More

Barring an injury to any of DeWanna Bonner, AT, or JJ, Brionna Jones will almost certainly be coming off the bench. It’s quite the luxury for Miller to be able to bring the reigning Most Improved Player and All-Star off the bench. Jones would start for most other teams in the league. She’s established herself as one of the top centers. Right now, she’s looking like a frontrunner for the Sixth Woman of the Year Award.

She’s currently averaging 12.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Jones is also grabbing 3.3 offensive rebounds per game, per Her Hoops Stats. That’s the most in the WNBA. She has a knack for carving out space under the basket when a shot goes up to snag an offensive board. She’s also improved greatly finishing those put backs through contact. Jones is known for being one of the more efficient post players in the league, shooting 52.3%.

Might history be repeating itself for the Sun? In 2017, JJ won Most Improved Player of the Year. In 2018, she won Sixth Woman of the Year.

After being named the Most Improved Player of the Year last season, it’s looking like Brionna Jones is in prime position to follow in her teammate’s footsteps. If that does end up being the case, put your money on Brionna Jones to win MVP in 2025.

About Kayla Dos Santos

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