New beginnings are on the horizon for the Connecticut Sun after a trip to the WNBA Finals in 2022.
An offseason blockbuster deal abruptly ended the Jonquel Jones era in Connecticut. Jones was shipped to New York to create a superteam alongside Sabrina Ionescu and free agent acquisitions Breanna Stewart and Courtney Vandersloot.
The return for the Sun in exchange for the 2021 WNBA MVP screams to be overlooked, but it shouldn’t.
In the three-team trade that saw the Dallas Wings help push the deal across the finish line, Connecticut received fourth-year guard Tyasha “Ty” Harris from the Wings, as well as Rebecca Allen and the sixth pick in the 2023 WNBA draft from New York. Darius Taylor, entering his first year as general manager for the Sun, would go on to trade that No. 6 pick to the Atlanta Dream for Tiffany Hayes.
After a bevy of moves, Taylor and incoming head coach Stephanie White, who has a wealth of experience in the W, look to steer Connecticut in a new direction.
Hayes and Natisha Hiedeman will likely lead the backcourt, with support from DiJonai Carrington off the bench. As one of the newcomers, Harris will have a chance to impact the guard position for the Sun on day one.
Jasmine Thomas, who was dealt to the Los Angeles Sparks this offseason after running the point for Connecticut in prior years, had high praise for Harris when speaking to Winsidr’s Myles Ehrlich.
“Harris is an underrated point guard in this league. She has maximized her minutes with her consistency and poise, which should not be undervalued as it’s the strongest part of her game. Harris’ playing time in Dallas has staggered because of her surrounding counterparts, but she has always been a bright spot when the Wings are in need of scoring. Harris also controls the ball in a manner that’s not reckless or timid. She plays with a nice balance of basketball IQ and instinct.”
In three seasons with Dallas, Harris had a consistent role, mainly off the bench. Over the course of her career, she has averaged 16.9 minutes per game (MPG) while scoring 5.2 points per game (PPG) and shooting 33.1 percent from three. In a supporting effort, Harris has averaged 2.8 assists per game (APG), often serving as the primary ball handler in given minutes.
Dropping dimes has been a consistent part of Harris’ game in the W. Before thinking about taking a shot herself, she looks to provide a clean look and set up a quality shot for her teammates, whether that’s feeding the post or finding a floor-spacer for an open three.
Harris’ floor vision in transition leads to high-powered offense. In the following video, she notices a cutting perimeter defender looking to guard the paint. Harris capitalizes on the opportunity by sending a no-look, one-handed pass to Allisha Gray for a largely uncontested three as the defender struggles to close out due to the positioning that Harris spotted.
Just last season, Harris saw multiple games with double-digit assist totals, including an 18-point, 11-assist night during the Wings’ final showing of the regular season against the Los Angeles Sparks.
Harris’ supporting role continued as Dallas entered the playoffs, during which she averaged 17.4 MPG in an opening-round series against her new team, the Connecticut Sun.
She has consistently found herself at the top of the pack as a professional facilitator, being in the 74th percentile in APG and the 84th percentile in total assists last season, according to Her Hoop Stats. Those are astronomical numbers for someone primarily coming off the bench and logging limited minutes. In a new situation that could bring a lead-guard role, Harris has the potential to be one of the league’s top passers from a numbers standpoint. Some of the cleanest dishes in the W already come from the hands of Harris, who is one of the elite visionaries in the league.
Coming into training camp, Harris is likely the best inbounder on the Sun roster. This will give her additional opportunities off set actions to create scoring for her new teammates.
As for Harris’ scoring, her consistency and volume fluctuated both from the field and from three last season. She shot 41.8 percent from the field and 31.5 percent from three on 4.7 field goal attempts (FGA) per game. There is room to grow for Harris as a scorer. Further developing this part of her game will allow her to draw additional defensive attention to create even more room for others on the floor.
The scoring efficiency was there in college, although she still shined as a passer, when she ran South Carolina’s offense in her days with coach Dawn Staley. As a senior with the Gamecocks, Harris shot 38.4 percent from three on 3.0 three-point attempts (3PA) per game.
In the W, the flashes as a scorer are there. Harris has shown an ability to connect from all over the court. While she has struggled some nights to put the ball in the hoop, likely due to seeing a smaller number of minutes from the bench, Harris can turn it on quickly and score at will when she sees her shot falling.
She has a pure shooting stroke. If left open beyond the arc, the defense will pay.
With a Harris-led offense, the primary upside is her ability to set the pace, which will allow the Sun to play their own game. The Sun were in the middle of the pack in pace last season, which Harris can help control at the point. Once the ball is in her hands, Harris knows whether to push in transition or slow it down to properly set up the offense. Her basketball IQ sets her apart, which will help her secure a long career in the W.
On a Jones-less Connecticut roster, the Sun will now work to establish their new identity. A trip to the Finals last season was thanks in part to a league-best net rating. Alyssa Thomas, DeWanna Bonner, and Brionna Jones are still around to gather rebounds, put pressure on opposing offenses, and score from the frontcourt. Allen, who also came over in the megatrade with Harris, adds additional depth down low as one of the league’s best shot-blockers. She also adds floor spacing as an effective three-point shooter for her position.
Despite the changes they faced this offseason, the Sun still have a strong roster heading into the 2023 season, and Harris is an integral piece. She is stepping into a role where she can run the entire offense as the potential point guard of the future in Connecticut. Whether as a scorer or a passer, offense is bound to come when Harris is on the floor.
Listen here or on your podcast app ⤵️https://t.co/5Abe2A26PS
— Winsidr (@Winsidr) February 15, 2023