Is ‘JJ’ the MVP?

Jones still listed as frontrunner for league’s top award

With just a week remaining in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) regular season, Jonquel “JJ” Jones is on the verge of accomplishing something that has never been done before by a Bahamian in a team sport in a major professional sports league in the United States.

The 27-year-old 6’6” Bahamian star is listed by a number of major sports, and women’s basketball, publications and outlets as the frontrunner for the WNBA’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award. It would be her most prestigious award to date, in her professional basketball career, and certainly a major milestone for women’s basketball here in The Bahamas.

Despite missing five games this season to take part in the 2021 European Women’s Basketball Championship for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jones continues to be dominant, finishing off her best season of the five she has played in, in the WNBA.

Jones is fourth in the league in scoring at 19.6 points per game, and leads in rebounding at 11.2 rebounds per game. She is poised to finish as the rebounds leader in the WNBA for the third time in her five-year career. She set a WNBA record for rebounds in a season, becoming the first player to collect more than 400 rebounds in a season, in 2017.

Jones is averaging career-high numbers in assists and steals – posting 2.8 assists and 1.4 steals per game, and is also averaging 1.2 blocks per game. She is shooting 51.7 percent from the field and 37.4 percent from three-point land.

Jones and the Connecticut Sun clinched the WNBA pennant and the number one seed in the playoffs with a statement win over the Phoenix Mercury on Saturday night, finishing a four-game road trip undefeated. They recorded an impressive 76-67 win over the Mercury, at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, and will now end the season at home, taking on two sub-.500 teams.

Jones and the league-leading Sun (24-6) will face the New York Liberty (11-19) at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, on Wednesday, then end their regular season against the Atlanta Dream (7-22) on their home court on Sunday – the last day of the regular season. The Sun is currently in the midst of a 12-game winning streak, and is poised to finish with their best win/loss record in franchise history – a major reason why Jones is considered the frontrunner for the MVP award. One more win would give the Sun their longest winning streak in franchise history.

The Sun has already clinched the league’s best record – their first time accomplishing that feat since the 2006 season, and Jones has been their leader through it all. She is looking to lead the Sun to their first-ever WNBA title.

Jones missed the entire 2020 season as a health precaution due to the advent of the coronavirus pandemic. In the 2019 postseason, she was fantastic, leading the Sun to the WNBA Finals and coming within a game of winning it all. They lost in five games to then-MVP Elena Delle Donne and the Washington Mystics. In that championship series, Jones averaged 19.2 points and 11 rebounds per game, including a massive 32-point, 18-rebound effort in game two of that series. That was a new playoff and career-high for her.

“We knew Jones had all the tools to be a WNBA superstar and they were on full display,” as quoted in an SB Nation report – a popular sports blogging network based out of New York City and Washington, DC. “She entered the 2021 season as an MVP candidate and at No. 6 in Swish Appeal’s Top 30 player list. She has been nothing short of spectacular this season and leads the first-place Sun, so she is considered to be the MVP frontrunner.”

The report has Seattle Storm star Breanna Stewart listed at number two on the list, Brittney Griner of the Mercury at number three, reigning MVP A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces at number four, and the Mystics’ Tina Charles at number five.

As for number one Jones, she is certainly having her finest season in the league – putting up MVP numbers across the board in a number of statistical categories. She is the only player in the league leading her team in four of the five main statistical categories – points, rebounds, steals and blocks.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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