JONQUEL Jones began the 2019-20 WNBA regular season with a double double as the Connecticut Sun won on opening night.
Jones finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds in the Sun’s 84-69 win over the Washington Mystics Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. She also added three blocked shots and two steals in just over 30 minutes.
Connecticut went on a 13-2 run in the middle of the third quarter to take control. The Suns led 67-53 after three quarters and by double figures throughout the fourth quarter.
The Sun will face the Mystics two more times in the regular season series, June 11 and June 29.
“I see the bounceback in JJ’s game that she had in 2017,” Sun head coach Curt Miller said.
“She’s just so active right now, but you also see the maturity and growth in her game... You hear her more vocal on the court than ever, and that’s really great to see.”
During the offseason in Russia with UKMMC Ekatinburg, Jones played alongside teammates of Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Emma Meesseman (Washington Mystics) and Maria Vadeeva (Los Angeles Sparks).
“You live and you learn. You try to do things to adjust and get better and I’ve learned what not to do. It wasn’t about gaining weight, I just wanted to be able to bang a little more with the post players. I didn’t realise that I lost a lot of my agility and quickness and stuff that really helped me stand out,” Jones told the Norwich Bulletin.
“I have to make sure that I’m ready to play those long minutes. I was working hard, getting ready for this (the WNBA season). “It’s tough to go year-round, playing and playing. It’s tough on your body. I’m still young, but when I was younger, I didn’t really feel it. I feel it a little more. I was blessed that we had so many bodies (in Russia) that they rested people. At first, it was like, ‘Dang, I wish I was playing’ but when I thought about it, it made sense to get rest and get better in practice.“
CBS Sports’ award predictions tabbed Jones as the frontrunner for the WNBA MVP award.
“Last season’s Sixth Woman of the Year, Jones is primed for a dynamite 2019 season. After the Sun traded Chiney Ogwumike to the Sparks in the offseason, Jones will be back in the starting lineup alongside Alyssa Thomas, which is one of the most frightening frontcourt pairings in the league.
An athletic, 6-6 centre, Jones has an elite offensive game due to her versatility. She’s an elite outside shooter - 46.7 per cent on over three attempts per game last season - but also more than capable scoring inside on either drives to the rim or post-ups. Now well established in the league, this feels like the season Jones takes things to another level. And it won’t hurt that she’s playing on a strong Sun team as well.”
The Sun host the Indiana Fever at 7pm on Tuesday night.