By RENALDO DORSETT
SHE has yet to make a preseason appearance, but WNBA Insiders still consider Jonquel Jones one of the top players in the league and project her to have another standout season.
WNBA.com posed questions to the league’s general managers to learn what the people who make the decisions think on a variety of topics.
Jones was voted as the league’s top rebounder and received a whopping 58 per cent on the poll ahead of Tina Charles at 25 per cent. Sylvia Fowles and Brittney Griner were tied for third at eight per cent.
Jones also received eight per cent of the votes for WNBA MVP (tied for fourth) and best centre in the league (tied for third). Jones was also in a tie for third place among the players best at creating their own shot.
Jones finished the year averaging 15.5 points and 11.9 rebounds per game, leading both categories for the Connecticut Sun - a dramatic increase from her rookie season when she averaged 6.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
Her record-setting total was 403 rebounds for the season. She also added 20 double doubles.
Jones’ historic season included several individual milestones, including becoming just the second player in league history to record three 20-rebound games in a single season.
The Sun finished the regular season with a record of 21-13, second in the Eastern Conference. They lost to the Phoenix Mercury in the second round of the playoffs.
The Sun were also projected to be successful in the WNBA Insider poll as the team likely to have the most wins in the Eastern Conference and tied for third in projections to win the WNBA Finals. They were also voted as the “Most Fun Team to Watch.”
Jones comes off a successful offseason where she led her Shanxi Xing Rui Flame to a runners-up finish in the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association. Jones ended the regular season averaging a team-high 29.3 points, 18.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists over 31 games.
Sun head coach and general manager Curt Miller told the Norwich Bulletin that he is confident Jones will join the team in time for the season opener.
“I will be confident when I see her walk into Mohegan Sun Arena that she is here,” Miller said. “There is going to be a learning curve. Game shape, basketball shape, is totally different than treadmill and workout shape so it’s going to be a learning curve for her after missing a 19-day training camp on timing, execution, as well as conditioning and getting her basketball legs under her,” Miller said.
The Sun recorded preseason wins over the Dallas Wings and Los Angeles Sparks as the preseason got underway last week.
Miller said the combination of Jones – the league’s reigning Most Improved Player and Second Team All-WNBA selection, and Chiney Ogwumike, the 2014 Rookie of the Year, could take the Sun to the next level. Alongside Ogwumike, Jones averaged 6.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game as a rookie.
Last season, with Ogwumike sidelined with an injury, Jones developed into one of the league’s rising stars.
Expectations will be even higher for both Jones and her team headed into the 2018-19 season.
The WNBA announced that 20 games that will be live streamed on Twitter during the 2018 season as the social media app returns for its second consecutive season of live game coverage.
Three of the 20 games will feature Jones and the Sun. The Sun will be in the first game broadcasted live on Twitter when the regular season commences on Sunday, May 20. They will face the Las Vegas Aces at 1pm. Their other Twitter broadcasts will be against the Dallas Wings, 7pm August 14, followed by the finale against the Los Angeles Sparks, 3pm on August 19.