July 6, 2022 

Daily Briefing — July 6, 2022: SUN-DOWNING — Connecticut continues poor streak with loss to Dallas

Balanced Storm hits Indiana

Happy hump day! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, daily Watch List, and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 52 of the WNBA season is here, following the Connecticut Sun once again looking bad. The Sun came into yesterday having been, frankly, poor since their June 17 win over the Storm; Connecticut had taken an eight-point loss to Washington, a four-point loss to New York in which the Sun essentially never led, and an eight-point loss to Chicago, while barely escaping an Elena Delle Donne-less Mystics and beating the Dream. And then the Sun competed against the Wings for half a quarter yesterday. And that was about it.

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Over these past six games*:

  • Connecticut’s starting lineup is running a -4.8 net rating (zero is league average)
  • The jumbo lineup (Alyssa Thomas at point, DeWanna Bonner and Jonquel Jones on the big wings, Bri Jones at center) is a -14.6
  • Only Brionna Jones is shooting above league average overall (by eFG%), while Alyssa Thomas is scoring a little above league-average efficiency thanks to her free-throw rate
  • Bonner is shooting 33.3 percent, DiJonai Carrington 21.8 percent, while Jonquel Jones and Natisha Hiedeman are a combined 14-for-57 from three
  • Only Thomas and Bonner have assist-to-turnover ratios significantly above league-average, per Her Hoop Stats

*All stats per WNBA Advanced Stats unless otherwise noted

Jonquel Jones and Hiedeman are going to remember how to shoot threes soon, and Bonner isn’t this inefficient of a scorer. But Connecticut’s most important lineups could very well just be somewhat mediocre. There’s a fundamental math problem the Sun are running into here, where two remains less than three, no matter how often they’re getting to the line. And it’s hard to even get twos when defenses only have to defend the roughly 10 feet of space right in front of the rim, since Jones and Hiedeman aren’t doing anything.

Jonquel Jones this year has run a usage rate about 15 percentiles lower than last year, per HHS, and even her current usage oversells her actual impact in the game; Connecticut has quite simply struggled to get the ball into the hands of its best player since the 2021 playoffs started. At the same time, nearly 12 shots per game are going to a player who ranks in the 22nd percentile in scoring efficiency (Courtney Williams), per HHS. The team simply isn’t adjusting its approach on a game-by-game basis. And while it’s true that the Sun roster forces the team into awkward lineups, the guy who’s deliberately built that roster is the same one failing to adapt it to a rapidly modernizing W landscape.

At a certain point, it’s not disrespect — it’s just a pattern.

But first, read:

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Watch List, Wednesday, June 6

(All times in Eastern, Game Of The Day in bold)

Chicago @ Minnesota, 1 p.m., NBA TV (Local: CW26, Bally Sports North Extra)

Washington @ Atlanta, 8 p.m., CBS Sports Network (Local: Monumental Sports Network, Bally Sports South)

New York @ Las Vegas, 10 p.m., CBS Sports Network (Local: My LV TV)

Tuesday, July 5 recap

Seattle (14-8) beat Indiana (5-18), 95-73. The Fever led as late as the mid-second quarter, then allowed a 12-2 Storm run. Seattle shot 10.3 percentage points better from the field, despite shooting only 25.0% from three.

Combo guard Jewell Loyd led the Storm with 25 points on 9-for-19 from the field and 4-for-10 from three, three assists, and three steals; center Ezi Magbegor notched a double-double in 22 minutes, with 12 points on 5-for-8 FG and 11 rebounds, plus three assists against three turnovers and five fouls; backup center Tina Charles had 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting (1-1 3pt.), eight rebounds, and two assists. Every healthy Seattle player recorded between 11 and 29 minutes.

Indiana was led by combo guard Kelsey Mitchell’s 21 points on 7-for-16 from the field, 3-for-6 from three, and 4-for-6 from the line, three rebounds, and three assists; point guard Danielle Robinson had 11 points on 5-for-9 shooting, six rebounds, and four assists; big NaLyssa Smith notched 14 points on 4-for-13 FG (2-5 3pt., 4-6 FT) and four rebounds.

Dallas (10-12) beat Connecticut (14-8), 82-71. The Sun led for about half of the first 3.5 minutes, and the Wings led the rest of the way. The teams combined to shoot 44.1% from the field and 21.7% from three; Dallas only committed nine turnovers.

Off-ball guard Arike Ogunbowale led the Wings with 20 points on 6-for-15 from the field and 3-for-8 from three, and 5-for-6 from the line, four rebounds (three offensive), and three assists without a turnover; backup center Teaira McCowan had 14 points on 6-for-9 FG, seven rebounds, and four blocks with no turnovers; big Satou Sabally had 14 points off the bench on 6-for-11 shooting (2-5 3pt.), three rebounds, and two assists in 19 minutes; wings Marina Mabrey and Allisha Gray combined for 24 points on 9-for-23 from the field and 1-for-9 from three, 13 rebounds, and eight assists against six turnovers.

Connecticut was led by combo guard Courtney Williams’ 25 points on 12-for-17 shooting (1-3 3pt.), six rebounds, and three assists without a turnover while playing the entire game; backup center Brionna Jones had 16 points on 6-for-11 FG and three rebounds against three turnovers; big wing Jonquel Jones struggled to 10 points on 4-for-10 from the field and 1-for-6 from three, seven rebounds, two assists, and two blocks against three turnovers in only 25 minutes.

Written by Em Adler

Em Adler (she/they) covers the WNBA at large and college basketball for The Next, with a focus on player development and the game behind the game.

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