Connecticut kicked off the WNBA semifinals Tuesday as the top seed and also the league’s MVP team in Jonquel Jones, alongside Coach of the Year Curt Miller and Most Improved Player Brionna Jones.
Alera Jonquel Jones won the MVP honor with 48 of 49 first-place votes and 487 total points from a national media panel. Phoenix center Brittney Griner finished second with 224 points and received the other first-place vote. Seattle forward Breanna Stewart was third (156), Minnesota center Sylvia Fowles was fourth (137) and Washington center Tina Charles was fifth (127). Stewart (2018), Fowles (2017), and Charles (2012) are all former MVP award winners. The accolade marked a steady progression for Jones, who won the WNBA Most Improved Player award in 2017 and was Best Sixth Woman of the Year in 2018.
Jones, who is 6 feet 6 inches and 27 years old, is in his fifth season in the WNBA. She was selected sixth, by George Washington, in the 2016 draw by the Los Angeles team and then traded to the Sun. She did not play in the WNBA in 2020 when the campaign was played on the bubble in Bradenton, Florida, and the Sun reached the conference semifinals.
With Jones back in 2021, Connecticut posted a league-best 26-6. She averaged 19.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.3 blocked shots and 1.3 steals.
“What does it take to be a MVP type player, not just a great player?” Miller said. “It’s her ability to keep adding to her game and play both sides of the ball. She became more of a rim protector, and has long established herself as one of the elite rebounders in the world.
“There’s been a lot written about offense. She has incredible touch and the ability to play with her back to the basket. But what makes her special is how she plays away from the basket and her ability to hit 3s.”
Miller said Jones has also become a facilitator when needed, “not just a catch-and-shoot player.”
Born in the Bahamas, Jones will receive $ 15,450 and a trophy for Tiffany & Co. She is the second player to win the MVP while playing for the Sun. Charles, who is now in Washington, was the first.
Meanwhile, Brionna Jones, according to Miller, is the perfect example of a player waiting her turn. Jones averaged a double-double as a senior in Maryland, and was selected No. 8 in the 2017 draft. During her first three WNBA seasons, she averaged less than 10 minutes and four points per game. But when Jonquel Jones did not play in the bubble, Brionna Jones took advantage of her opportunity to be more on the court.
Brionna Jones received 38 of 49 votes from the journalists’ panel, while Las Vegas guard Kelsey Plum was second and Dallas guard Marina Mabrey was third. Selected by Connecticut in the first round of the 2017 WNBA draft (eighth overall pick), Jones averaged career-best 14.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 30.6 minutes.
“What not everyone is capable of doing in this league is being prepared and ready for their opportunity,” Miller said. “She continues to work seriously, seriously on her game and her fitness.”
Miller received the Best Coach award for the second time, previously winning it in 2017. He received 41 of 49 votes from the panel of journalists. Cheryl Reeve of Minnesota was second, and Bill Laimbeer of Las Vegas and Noelle Quinn of Seattle tied for third place.
“He puts people in ideal scoring positions and makes them feel comfortable,” DeWanna Bonner of the Sun said of Miller.