WNBA Finals Game 2 Player Spotlight: Jonquel Jones, Y’all

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JONQUEL JONES.

JONQUEL JONES.

JONQUEL JONES.

Anyway, Jonquel Jones.

If you watched Game 2 of the WNBA Finals, then you saw a master class in good basketball from Connecticut’s Jonquel Jones. Jones — who finished third in MVP voting this year, should have finished second, and still doesn’t get called a star by 100% of the world, which is wild since 100% of the world should definitely consider her a star — put up some unbelievable numbers, finishing with 32 points and 18 rebounds. She was 13-for-24 from the field and was 3-for-7 from three.

Connecticut had to win this game. You can’t go down 0-2 against this Mystics team — even if Elena Delle Donne isn’t on the floor, as she wasn’t for most of Game 2 after leaving in the first quarter with back spasm, Washington has enough pieces to still be one of the league’s most dangerous teams.

Instead, we’re tied at 1-1 as we head to Mohegan Sun, where the Sun were 15-2 at home in the regular season. This is a team that’s virtually unbeatable at home. Game 2’s road win over Washington could very well be the thing that propels the Sun to a WNBA title.

But Game 3 talk is for a different time. I just want to talk more about Jonquel Jones and her phenomenal Game 2.

Jonquel Jones’ Unstoppable Offense

You don’t just luck into 32 points.

In fact, Jones tied the Sun record for points in a playoff game that was set by Nykesha Sales in 2004 Finals. Sales was a seven-time WNBA All-Star, so Jones is in good company at the top of that list.

On Tuesday night, Jones was…well, unstoppable, basically. Sure, she technically missed some shots, but everyone misses shots. The Mystics still just had nothing for her. Their “hope Jones fouls out” strategy did get her up to five fouls and was probably the best way Washington had to slow her down, but she didn’t foul out, so it didn’t actually work.

Jones actually got off to a pretty inauspicious start, as she didn’t score until mid-way through the first quarter, but when she did score, it had all the hallmarks of a good Jonquel Jones play: it was good and it was fun:

I am not a basketball purist. Sure, I’ll watch solid post play and appreciate it and I’ll watch solid fundamental basketball and appreciate it, but I’m also 100% onboard with the growing trend of bigs being able to step out and fire away from deep. I don’t always need to see a center backing her way into the paint and hitting a hook shot, even though Jonquel Jones does do plenty of that. Sometimes I want to see them making spot-up threes.

So, this play was right up my alley. Jones is the trailer on this play and the Mystics don’t seem to be accounting for the idea that she’ll come in, stop at the three-point line, and then drain a three. That makes sense — you probably want to protect against her getting into the paint more than you want to protect against her being a catch-and-shoot option.

On this play, that burns Washington, because Jones being left with the space and time to set up behind the arc is always going to be a win for Connecticut.

Jones was also huge on the offensive boards in this one, grabbing nine rebounds on that end of the floor. Washington not having Elena Delle Donne was a huge part of that, because when they have EDD on the court, they’re able to use her to box Jones away from the offensive glass. No Delle Donne equals no real resistance when it came to keeping Jones from just being a rebounding machine. The Sun had 27 second chance points in this one, while the Mystics had just 10.

Jones herself had four putbacks, scoring eight points off those shots. She continually put herself in position to make plays, and Connecticut was successful because of it.

Jonquel Jones Defensively: Also Very Good

Jones had nine offensive rebounds.

She also had nine defensive rebounds and three blocks:

On this block, a driving Kristi Toliver just has no chance, because Jones has an open path to the jump over into the paint and interfere with the shot. If you’re Washington, you have to try to find a way to keep Jones away from the paint. I don’t know what that way is, but you aren’t going to be very successful if she’s able to slide over and block shots at will.

Like with the offensive rebounding, having Delle Donne helps. If Jones is guarding EDD, then…well, you can’t leave Delle Donne open on the perimeter, which means that Jones isn’t in position to make plays on plays like this. As so much does in this series, Washington winning depends on the health of their star. Without her, Connecticut’s biggest star is able play the way she wants to play and get involved with everything, which leads to games like Tuesday night. Remember: Delle Donne missed one of the three games between these teams in the regular season. The Mystics lost that game. They also lost with Delle Donne in a game at Mohegan Sun.

So, the biggest takeaway from Tuesday’s Connecticut win?

Jonquel Jones.

JONQUEL JONES.

Yes, Jonquel Jones.

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