WNBA DFS Preview: Connecticut Sun

How to value the Sun for daily fantasy purposes.

Connecticut was a very interesting team last year. The return of Chiney Ogwumike pushed Jonquel Jones to the bench, where she was much less effective, and not the fantasy monster like she was two years ago.

(Reminder: here’s my Daily Fantasy primer.)

Of course, Chiney is now in LA, and it appears as though Jones should be back to starting and playing full-time minutes. We will touch on that a little later. First, I’d like to dive into the team profile from last year.

The Team

The Sun boasted the second best net rating last year, behind only the champion Seattle Storm. Most of this high net rating was driven by an 107 offensive rating. In terms of pace, The Sun fit in just above average. They played almost a full possession faster in 2017, so it may be interesting to monitor if the pace quickens without Chiney. The last thing that stands out is that opposing teams scored almost 19% of their points via free throws against the Sun. That is the highest in the league by a good margin. Targeting players who draw fouls against the Sun may be a good course of action.

The Starters

The Sun basically return their entire starting lineup, sliding Jonquel Jones in for Chiney Ogwumike. Last year, the Sun ended with Alyssa Thomas, Jasmine Thomas, Courtney Williams, Shekinna Stricklen, and Ogwumike as starters. I would expect a very similar starting lineup this year, but with Jones over Ogwumike.

Layshia Clarendon was first off the bench, getting high teens minutes in most games with the Sun after coming over from Atlanta. Fantasy points per minute (fpm) is just a metric that measures, on average, how many fantasy points a player scores in one minute. In general, the superstars of WNBA DFS score over a fantasy point per minute. Jonquel Jones, despite coming off of the bench, scored at 1.1 fpm, while Alyssa Thomas scored 0.97 fpm. Guards Courtney Williams and Jasmine Thomas each fell around the 0.95 fpm mark, while Stricklen and Clarendon were around 0.6 fpm.

The big change this year will be more minutes for Jones, and maybe fewer rebounds for everyone else. Jones held a 17% rebound rate in 2018, contrasted with a 24% rebound rate in 2017. If she can get back to her 2017 form, there certainly will be fewer rebounds to go around for the Thomas’ as well as Williams.

The addition of a starting Jonquel Jones (and her 3 point shooting) may allow for more space to open up and not allow for opposing defenses to pack the paint. Ogwumike took almost no threes last year, whereas the three point shot has been a constant evolving piece in Jones’ game. This may allow the offense to become even more efficient in 2019.

As well, Courtney Williams increased her 3-pointers attempted from 37 to 53 in 2018. This added spacing should aid Alyssa Thomas, both in her ability to score down low, and also pass out of double-teams to shooters along the perimeter. I would expect Thomas’ already high assist totals to increase even more this season.

Draft Pick Impact

I believe the only impactful draft pick (this year) for the Sun will be Kristine Anigwe. Her main position on this team will be backup center, and it will be interesting to see exactly how many minutes are given to her off of the bench. Anigwe can clearly fill up the stat sheet, as she had a 30 30 game at Cal. She could be an option if the minutes are there.

Conclusion

To recap, for fantasy purposes, Jonquel Jones is the clear winner here. There is a big gap left by Chiney, and I think the offense could become even better with the added spacing. Alyssa Thomas should also improve and have a bigger and more efficient role. Jasmine Thomas and Courtney Williams are always good for a blowup game, and produce fantasy points at a good clip. In general, there are three really good options, and one great option here. Each of them should be looked at every slate depending on matchups and price!

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