Thanks to their fine play during the WNBA Season, a duo of Connecticut Sun stars along with Head Coach Curt Miller receieved some postseason awards recently.
First up, Connecticut Sun forward Jonquel Jones has been named the 2021 Kia WNBA Most Valuable Player, the WNBA announced today. This is the first WNBA Most Valuable Award for Jones, who was the 2018 WNBA Sixth Player of the Year and 2017 WNBA Most Improved Player.
Jones received 48 of 49 first-place votes and 487 total points from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner finished in second place with 224 points (one first-place vote). Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart, the 2018 WNBA Most Valuable Player, finished in third place with 156 points. Finishing in fourth and fifth place, respectively, were Minnesota Lynx center and 2017 WNBA MVP Sylvia Fowles (137 points) and Washington Mystics center and 2012 WNBA MVP Tina Charles (127 points).
Players were awarded 10 points for a first-place vote, seven points for a second-place vote, five points for a third-place vote, three points for a fourth-place vote and one point for a fifth-place vote.
In her fifth WNBA season, Jones averaged 19.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.26 blocked shots and 1.26 steals in 31.7 minutes in 27 games. The 6-6 forward led the WNBA in rebounding and defensive rebounding (8.7 drpg) and ranked fourth in scoring and 10th in blocks. Her efficiency rating of 25.4 was second only to Griner (26.0).
Jones, 27, won the WNBA Peak Performer Award as the league’s top rebounder for the third time in five seasons. She also led the WNBA in rebounding in 2017 and 2019.
Behind Jones, the Sun posted the highest winning percentage in franchise history (.813) and finished the regular season with 14 consecutive victories for the fourth-longest winning streak in WNBA history. Connecticut also earned the league’s best record (26-6) and the No. 1 seed in the WNBA Playoffs 2021 presented by Google. The Sun, seeking to win its first WNBA championship, hosts the sixth-seeded Chicago Sky in Game 1 of a Semifinals series tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
Jones scored at least 20 points in 12 of 27 games, including a career-high 31 points vs. the New York Liberty on June 5 and again at Washington on Aug. 31. She also grabbed a career-best 17 rebounds at New York on July 11. Jones finished the season with 18 double-doubles (points-rebounds).
A native of the Bahamas, Jones was named the WNBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month for May, August and September. Connecticut posted a combined 18-2 record in those three months.
Jones was selected by the Los Angeles Sparks with the sixth overall pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft before Connecticut acquired her draft rights in a trade that night. She holds career averages of 13.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.42 blocks.
In honor of being named the 2021 WNBA Most Valuable Player, Jones will receive $15,450 and a specially designed trophy by Tiffany & Co.
In addition, Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller has been named the 2021 WNBA Coach of the Year, the WNBA announced today. He becomes the sixth coach in the 25-year history of the league to win the award multiple times, joining three-time winners Van Chancellor, Cheryl Reeve and Mike Thibault, and two-time winners Dan Hughes and Bill Laimbeer.
Miller received 41 votes from a national panel of 49 sportswriters and broadcasters. Reeve of the Minnesota Lynx finished second with six votes. Laimbeer of the Las Vegas Aces and Noelle Quinn of the Seattle Storm tied for third with one vote each.
Miller, in his sixth season as a WNBA head coach, guided the Sun to the league’s best record (26-6) and the No. 1 seed in the WNBA Playoffs 2021 presented by Google. The Sun tips off its quest for the franchise’ first WNBA championship tonight at 8 p.m. ET, hosting the sixth-seeded Chicago Sky (ESPN2) in Game 1 of a Semifinals series.
The Sun’s overall winning percentage (.813) in 2021, propelled by a franchise-record 14-game winning streak to close the regular season, is the best mark in franchise history. Connecticut’s 14 straight wins from July 9 through August 19 also ranks as the fourth longest streak in league history. The Sun also led the league in point differential (9.8 ppg).
The 2017 WNBA Coach of the Year and Basketball Executive of the Year, Miller built this year’s team around a trio of 2021 WNBA All-Stars in DeWanna Bonner, Brionna Jones and Jonquel Jones. Bonner ranked among the top 16 in the league in scoring (15.2 ppg) and rebounding (6.4 rpg). Brionna Jones posted career highs in scoring (14.7 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 rpg). Jonquel Jones led the league in rebounding (11.2 rpg) and ranked fourth in scoring (19.4 ppg).
During the first half of the 2021 season, Miller guided the Sun to a 9-1 record in Commissioner’s Cup Games against Eastern Conference rivals and a berth in the inaugural Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game on Aug. 12 vs. Seattle.
Miller, 52, has led Connecticut to a postseason berth in five straight seasons, including a trip to the 2019 WNBA Finals. Before joining the professional ranks as an assistant with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2015, Miller went 290-124 (.700) over 13 seasons as the women’s coach at Bowling Green (2001-12) and Indiana (2012-14).
To round out the award winners, Connecticut Sun forward Brionna Jones has been named the 2021 Kia WNBA Most Improved Player, the WNBA announced today. A five-year WNBA veteran, Jones has won the Most Improved Player Award for the first time and joins Jonquel Jones (2017), Kelsey Bone (2015) and Wendy Palmer (2004) as players to earn the honor with the Sun.
Brionna Jones received 38 of 49 votes from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum finished in second place with eight votes. Rounding out the list of vote-getters were Dallas Wings guard Marina Mabrey (two votes) and New York Liberty guard Betnijah Laney (one vote), the 2020 Most Improved Player as a member of the Atlanta Dream.
Selected by Connecticut in the first round of the 2017 WNBA Draft (eighth overall pick), Jones
averaged career highs of 14.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 30.6 minutes while starting all 32 games for the Sun this season. Her previous career highs in each of those categories were all set with the Sun in 2020, when she averaged 11.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 26.1 minutes in 21 games.
This season, Jones helped the Sun post the highest winning percentage in franchise history (.813) and finish the regular season with 14 consecutive victories for the fourth-longest winning streak in WNBA history. Connecticut also earned the league’s best record (26-6) and the No. 1 seed in the WNBA Playoffs 2021 presented by Google. The Sun, seeking to win its first WNBA championship, hosts the sixth-seeded Chicago Sky in Game 1 of a Semifinals series tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
The 6-3 Jones ranked second in the WNBA in offensive rebounding (3.2 orpg) and eighth in steals (1.38 spg) in 2021. She scored at least 20 points in six games after doing so twice over her first four WNBA seasons. Her five games with at least 10 rebounds equaled her career total prior to this season.
Jones also set single-game career highs in points, with 34 against the Indiana Fever on July 1, and in rebounds, with 15 against the Los Angeles Sparks on Aug. 28. She was honored as the Eastern Conference Player of the Week twice after not having previously won the award.
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