July 22, 2023
Alyssa Thomas is taking over the Connecticut Sun record books
Thomas became the Sun's all-time assists leader on Tuesday
Alyssa Thomas continued to cement her legacy this week as one of the best passing forwards in WNBA history and the best player in Connecticut Sun history. She recorded her 1,000th career assist the same week she passed Jasmine Thomas for the most assists in Sun history.
When she passed Jasmine Thomas by recording her 995th assist in a 72-66 loss to the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday, it became the fourth franchise record she has set this season. Alyssa Thomas had already passed Sun legend Taj McWilliams-Franklin for most rebounds in team history on June 25 — a record that McWilliams-Franklin had held for 17 years. Thomas also became the franchise leader in free throws made on June 4 after setting the team’s single-game assist record with 16 assists on June 1.
“You’re going to see [Thomas’] number up there, there’s no question about it, hanging in the rafters,” Sun head coach Stephanie White said about Thomas’ assist record before Thursday’s game.
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Thomas — whose nicknames “The Engine” and “Ms. Connecticut” describe what she means to the franchise — said she’s proud of what she’s done for the Sun in her 10-year career with the team that traded for her on draft night in 2014.
Already the franchise leader in steals, rebounds and assists, Thomas is also on track to surpass Connecticut legend Asjha Jones to become the Sun’s career leader in points and games played before the end of this season.
“Being in a franchise this long, you don’t really see that anymore,” Thomas told The Next after Thursday’s game. “A lot of people go out and find new things, so I’m happy to be here. It’s the franchise that drafted me and believed in me. Any time you can be top of anything in a franchise is huge, and to have [these records] really is an honor.”
On Thursday, Thomas got her 1,000th career assist and 400th career steal in a 82-71 win against the Atlanta Dream. She is the fastest player in league history to record 3,000 points, 1,800 rebounds, 1,000 assists and 400 steals, doing it all in 261 games.
She’s one of six players in WNBA history to put up those numbers, alongside Naismith Hall of Famers Lindsay Whalen and Tamika Catchings and future Hall of Famers DeWanna Bonner, Diana Taurasi and Candace Parker.
White played with and coached Catchings, the franchise assists leader for the Indiana Fever and one of the best players of all time. White has compared Thomas’ effort and work ethic to those of Catchings in the past, and she said Thursday that their toughness and versatility also stand out.
“Not just being able to score the basketball and facilitate, but what they do on the defensive end of the floor. The tenacity they play with, the versatility that they can play with on the defensive end,” White said. “Tamika Catchings was one of the most elite two-way players this league has ever seen. And I think from AT’s standpoint, she’s different offensively than Catch was, but their skill sets, their toughness and their ability to play two ways are all parallel.”
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Thomas said she was taught from a young age to play multiple positions, so she watched and modeled her game after “a little bit of everybody,” from Manu Ginobili and Steve Nash, to LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“It’s hard to pinpoint one thing in my game, so I like to look at everything,” Thomas said.
Coming out of her fourth All-Star Game this season, Thomas is currently averaging 14.8 points (22nd in the league), 9.5 rebounds (5th), 8.0 assists (2nd) and 1.9 steals (1st) per game. Her 15 double-doubles in 22 games lead the league.
In addition, Thomas’ three triple-doubles this season made her the WNBA’s career triple-double leader. She has five regular-season triple-doubles in her career and seven total.
Her triple-doubles, franchise records, impressive stat lines and full-court dimes in transition have brought Thomas a new level of attention. Her versatility has gone under the radar throughout her career.
But she’s fielded questions this season about how she’s been able to hit a new level and firmly establish herself in the MVP conversation. She says she’s just doing what she’s always done — pushing tempo and finding easy opportunities for her teammates.
Thomas is always the first to pass on credit for her success to her teammates, especially for her ability to pile up assists and record triple-doubles. But she doesn’t take for granted how impressive those stat lines are.
“Triple-doubles aren’t easy at all, and to have multiple in your career, that’s something to be proud of,” Thomas said. “And the NBA guys like [Nikola] Jokic get 48 minutes to do it, and I’m getting it done in three quarters. For me, if I had 48 minutes, then it’d be pretty incredible to see what I could actually do in that amount of time.”
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