With back-to-back triple-doubles, Alyssa Thomas ended the 2022 WNBA season, a historically uncommon feat that is now increasingly typical in the league. Thomas and his Connecticut Sun teammates were forced to listen to the Las Vegas Aces popping bottles and responding to inquiries about dynasties while passing the visitors’ locker room rather than returning to Las Vegas for a winner-take-all Game 5.
The Suns have desired and been so close to achieving that
They keep missing the locker room for celebration. The majority of this group completed their season with such a spectacle for the second time in four years. 2019’s Game 5 celebrations in the District were hosted by the Washington Mystics and MVP Elena Delle Donne after the Sun took a late lead in that game. The semifinal matchup against the Aces in the 2020 bubble season ended in a loss for them in five games. As for the previous season, they rode the No. 1 seed only as far as a Game 4 semifinal defeat to the eventual champion Chicago Sky, who were the No. 6 seed.
In an unexpected Game 5 semifinal in Chicago, they vanquished that demon from 2021. And they averted.
Another Finals whitewash thanks to Thomas
Who on Thursday night, in Game 3, secured the first triple-double in WNBA Finals history to keep the season alive. She scored 16, pulled down 15 rebounds, and made 11 assists. Following Game 3’s rout by the Aces by a score of 29 points, head coach Becky Hammon remarked, “She’s a beast. I recently attended a UFC bout; she is not someone I would want to fight in the cage with. Just tough, that’s her. Durable, durable, durable a playmaker after being tough.
The following Sunday marked Thomas’ fourth attempt since July 21 and her career-high fourth overall. Thomas then made the opposite turn. Sabrina Ionescu and Candace Parker were surpassed by her for the most triple-doubles in WNBA history as she finished with 11 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds. A season that has seen a record nine was perfectly capped off by it. The total number is 20.
According to Sun head coach Curt Miller, “Alyssa was fantastic and a warrior through this entire series, and at times, tried to put us on her back.”
Sun players have been open about the fact that their window is shrinking due to the impending pay cap crisis in 2023. When the new CBA was signed prior to 2020, player earnings nearly doubled, but the salary cap only increased by 30%. Each one gets a small raise each year.
Two weeks into the season, Jasmine Thomas tore her ACL and missed the remainder of the year, which was a reoccurring trend for the Sun. Alyssa Thomas missed last season’s playoffs due to an Achilles injury, and Jonquel Jones skipped the previous year’s bubble season. They’ve had bad luck and come against teams that seem “destined to triumph.” The league-leading Aces are a prime example.
Both guard Courtney Williams and Brionna Jones, who won the Sixth Player of the Year award in 2021 and returned to the Sun to earn a “chip,” are unrestricted free agents. Natisha Hiedeman, who assumed point guard responsibilities, is constrained. Building a roster that can compete will need some creativity. And the core will almost certainly not be retained.