For this Breakdown, I chose the Connecticut Sun/San Antonio Stars game. I picked that game because I was interested in looking at teams that aren't performing well, and seeing what I could pull out of it, analysis-wise. I decided to look only at the Connecticut Sun offense, because to be frank, that was only part of this game that really interested me.
It was interesting to watch the Sun offense, and see how that light-speed pace looked in real time. It did not disappoint, but there are obvious downsides to that style of play. The thing that caught my eye the most, however, was that Connecticut is more offensively sophisticated than I expected.
For the player, I chose DeWanna Bonner. She was an obvious candidate because she went freaking nuts against the Dallas Wings, scoring 38 points in a loss. She is a versatile offensive player, and it was cool to watch her work in the context of this game.
A short one this week, but I'm going to do a massive Breakdown on the Lynx-Sparks Battle of the Undefeated for next week.
The thing that everyone says about the Sun is that they play fast, and that is very, very true. The stats and the eye test backs that up, and it gives them an air of competence that a team with their record should not possess. They do their best to keep moving at all times, but I don't want that to come off as an indictment against their basketball
They get down the court quickly, putting the Stars in a bad position. That early double-team in the low post gives the Sun ball handler a bevy of options, and a few passes later, Connecticut has an easy layup. The Stars are not a very good team, but they've been solid defensively, and the Sun do a good job of using their preferred pace to set up excellent ball movement.
This next clip is a perfect example of the way they move around the court. Almost all of the players are moving around, creating chaos and confusion:
And in the end, it results in a wide open three. There is criticism to be levied at this team for playing so fast, (for one, it gives their opponents more possessions, a deadly proposition against better teams), but they are also an intelligent group that knows how to use that speed properly. They lack firepower, not brains, and that's a good sign for their future.
DeWanna Bonner is overlooked on this Phoenix Mercury team, even by this brilliant author. It's not her fault; she is on a team with Diana Taurasi, an all-time great, and Brittney Griner, who could end up on that list as well. However, her versatility fills a lot of holes for this team, especially on offense. She's big, a 6'4 forward, yet she can dribble and drive with the best of the best:
She blows right past her initial defender, driving the baseline too quickly for the Wings to clog it up, and when they do start to close up on her, she goes past the basket and lays it in for a reverse layup. There are a lot of good forwards in the WNBA -- a lot of talented, talented scorers. But the versatility is what makes Bonner so valuable.
Watch this clip:
She's more than comfortable shooting off the dribble, which is a skill that most players don't have. She probes the lane a bit, which made the Dallas defender hesitate; by the time Bonner rises for the shot, the Wings player is too late. The Mercury would lose this game in overtime, but that is through no fault of hers.