PG: Kara Lawson/Renee Montgomery
SG: Allison Hightower/Tan White
SF: Kalana Greene/Kelly Faris
PF: Kelsey Griffin/Mistie Mims
C: Tina Charles
(plus SG Johannah Leedham or SG Natasha Lacy, and PF Ashley Walker or C Latoya Williams, pending final cuts)
Significant gains: Faris and Leedham/Lacy – so not much. Ann Donovan on the bench, if you happen to be a fan.
Significant losses: Asjha Jones, Danielle McCray, and Mike Thibault if you prefered him to Donovan.
Much like Atlanta, there’s been very little turnover in Connecticut since last year – bar the one big hole that’s opened up. Power forward Asjha Jones is taking the season off to rest a variety of injuries, leaving a glaring issue in the post alongside last season’s league MVP Tina Charles. The front office made a change on the sidelines, replacing long-time head coach Mike Thibault with Ann Donovan, in the hope that she could take them to the championship that always eluded her predecessor. But whoever’s in charge, covering the gap left by Jones isn’t going to be easy.
Ever since Tina Charles was drafted and created a two-way debate between herself and Chicago’s Sylvia Fowles for the title of ‘best center in the world’, she’s had a nice balance with Asjha Jones. In a lot of ways their offensive skills overlap, both possessing the ability to finish inside and hit a mid-range jumper, but they managed to become a complementary pair rather than get in each other’s way. That’s gone now. Charles will still be a prominent force, but defenses will be able to collapse on her even more than before. The remaining options aren’t great. At all. Kelsey Griffin has been in the league for three years now, is yet to shoot over 36% for a season, and is still just as undersized to play the 4 as she’s always been. Mistie Mims was a solid contributor as a 4/5 backup last year, but she’s limited offensively and distinctly slower than Jones. Mims is one of those players you love on your team as a 15 mpg backup, but scares the hell out of you as a 30 mpg starter. The one potential option who could replace Jones without much drop-off is French post Sandrine Gruda, who hasn’t been seen in the WNBA since 2010. She’ll be with the French national team through EuroBasket Women, which ends on June 30th, but there’ve been some signs that she might have interest in joining the Sun after that. If so, she’ll be welcomed with open arms. Because without Gruda – unless Griffin or Mims make a big leap – it’s going to be a case of papering over the cracks all season alongside Charles.