Bahamian Jonquel ‘JJ’ Jones, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Most Valuable Player (MVP), is off to a slow start this season, but her team is rolling right along, winning six of their first eight games.
Jones is averaging just 13.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per game this season her lowest numbers since the 2018 season. She is shooting 50 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from three-point range. The Bahamian women’s professional basketball player has been at 50 percent or lower from the field just one other time in her six-year career, and at 33.3 percent or lower from three-point range just two other times.
Be that as it may, the Sun continue to roll, winners of two straight and six of their last seven after opening the season with a loss to the New York Liberty at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The Sun have avenged both of their losses this season, beating the Liberty and the Dallas Wings the second time they faced those clubs.
Jones, who hails from Holmes Rock, Grand Bahama, became the first Bahamian athlete to be named MVP of a major professional sports organization with the top honor in the WNBA last year. She received 48 of the 49 first-place votes, finishing one vote shy of winning the award unanimously, and scored 487 points from a national panel of sports writers and broadcasters.
Also, Jones is the first player in league history to the WNBA’s Most Improved Player (MIP) Award (2017), the WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year Award (2018), and the WNBA MVP Award (2021), and the second non-American to be named WNBA MVP behind Lauren Jackson of Australia.
The Sun finished with the best record in the league in 2021 – a 26-6 win/loss record. They closed out the season with 14 straight regular season wins – the longest winning streak to end the season in WNBA history, and the fourth-longest winning streak in league history.
So far this season, Jones and the Sun are second in the league standings behind the Las Vegas Aces (8-1).
On Saturday, the Sun took down the Washington Mystic, 79-71, at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut – their third straight home game.
Jones played just 21 minutes in that game and came away with season-low numbers of nine points and five rebounds. She had just three field goal attempts – another season low. However, the Sun controlled the tempo for much of the game. They took the lead early in the second quartering and went on to lead by four at the half, 41-37. After a back and forth third, the Mystics appeared to gain the momentum with a 9-2 scoring run early in the fourth quarter. However, the Sun persevered. They took the lead for good at the 4:54 mark of the final period on a floating jump shot from Alyssa Thomas.
The Sun closed the game on a 12-3 run to record the victory.
Thomas, DeWanna Bonner and Courtney Williams led the Sun in scoring with 14 points apiece. Brionna Jones came off the bench to score 13 for the Sun, Jonquel Jones had nine and and Natisha Hiedeman dropped in eight. Kennedy Burke and Ariel Atkins paced the Mystics with 13 points apiece. Elizabeth Williams came off the bench to score 12 and Tianna Hawkins added 10 off the bench.
The nine points from Jones on Saturday broke a 15-game streak for her, dating back to last season, in which she reached double digits scoring.
Last season, Jones averaged 19.4 points and a league-best 11.2 rebounds per game, but is only at 13.8 points and 8.0 rebounds so far this season.
She was fourth in the league in scoring last season, but is 20th in scoring so far this season, and is third on her team in scoring behind Thomas and Bonner.
The Sun will go on a four-game road trip, facing the league-leading Aces twice in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Tuesday and Thursday this week; the Phoenix Mercury in Phoenix, Arizona, on Friday; and the Seattle Storm in Seattle, Washington, on Sunday. They will then return home to the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, to face the Indiana Fever next week Wednesday.