In the WNBA, one former MVP retired and another traded 24 hours apart. While 2014 MVP Maya Moore has been out of the game for several seasons due to personal reasons, 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones was still playing at an all-star level for a Connecticut Sun team that was one of the best in the league. It’s unusual to see MVPs trading in their prime, and when it does, it’s always a blockbuster. Let’s look at the implications of this move, especially for your fantasy units.
Jones is by far the most powerful player in this trade. She was named the 2021 WNBA Most Valuable Player after averaging career-best grades of 19.4 points per game, 11.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.63 points and 1.3 assists with an additional 1.3 points per game, the second-best average of her career. Her production dropped slightly in 2022 (14.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.2 triple shots, 1.2 shots per game, 1.1 shots per game), but in many ways this is likely related to the situation and context. Injuries in the frontcourt and a great game saw Jones hit a career-high 31.7 mpg in 2021, but the Sun fielded an extremely deep and talented set of hitters and centers last season, resulting in Jones shrank down to 26.4 mpg. Her shooting percentage has been nearly the same for two seasons, indicating that she is capable of performing at the same level in different circumstances.
Jones should get the chance to show that at the Liberty this season. The Liberty traded both starting forwards as part of the deal, so Jones should get all the minutes and responsibility she could want to play with or in front of Stephanie Dolson. Liberty point guard Sabrina Ionescu looks like a future MVP in the making, and she’s one of the best playmakers in the WNBA. Jones and Ionescu now form one of the best big/small combinations in the league and if they develop synergy it should give both players a statistical boost. Jones and Ionsescu are in the top 5 fantasy leagues this season and are both likely to be first-round picks in the fantasy leagues. New teammate Kayla Thornton was the Wings’ starting forward last season and will take on Bethnia Laney and 2021 WNBA Rookie of the Year Mikaela Onyenwere for playing time alongside Jones and Dolson in the frontcourt.
From a fantastic standpoint, the biggest winners for Sun in this deal were the three elite frontcourt players who remained on the roster. Alyssa Thomas (fifth), DeWanna Bonner (28th) and Brionna Jones (29th) joined Jones (tenth) in the top 30 in fantasy points last season despite four of them only having three. places on the site at the same time. New addition Rebecca Allen is an experienced role player, while 24-year-old security guard Tyasha Harris is either a role player or an up-and-coming player. Thomas played as a point forward last season (ranked fourth in the WNBA with 6.1 assists) and is a clear first-round prospect in fantasy leagues next season. Both Bonner and Brionna Jones are early to mid round prospects with upside potential in the top 20.
The Wings also made a splash with this deal, acquiring Natasha Howard, who is becoming the centerpiece of an already talented frontcourt. Howard is a strong two-way forward who averaged 15.1 points per game, 7.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 assists and 1.0 blocks per game last season. She scored eighth in fantasy points…right ahead of new teammate Arike Ogunbowale, who had a higher average per game but missed the end of last season with an injury. Howard and Ogunbowale make another strong forward/defense combo, and both deserve attention in the second or third round fantasy drafts.
All in all, it was a big deal that shook up the WNBA landscape and also caused a stir in the fantasy realm. Jones, the Sun’s starting front court, and Howard are now arguably better fantasy prospects than they were before the trade… and they were already among the best in the league. Chaos is a ladder even in the off-season, and this deal opens up new opportunities for just about everyone involved.