This was the year for the Connecticut Sun. But it always comes down to health, and that's particularly true for short WNBA seasons. Now the title favorites will have to go on without their starting point guard.
Jasmine Thomas will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL in her right knee, the team announced Tuesday. Thomas, a 12-year veteran who has been with the Sun since 2015, sustained the injury in the first quarter of Sunday's 92-70 win against the Indiana Fever. She will have surgery and a timetable is currently unavailable.
"Of course, I'm sad that I won't be able to continue playing on the court with this special team," Thomas said in a team release. "Everyone has been supportive and uplifting, and I'm just preparing mentally and emotionally to attack my recovery. I will continue to be a vocal leader and support my team from the sidelines. They're incredible and I'm excited about what they're going to achieve."
After the Sun announced the news, she wrote on Twitter:
Reading this still doesn’t even feel like it’s me we’re talking about. Still processing that this is my reality. Appreciate the overwhelming support, kind words & well wishes. If I don’t reply individually, I see it, I feel it. Thank you. Be back soon
Reading this still doesn’t even feel like it’s me we’re talking about. Still processing that this is my reality. Appreciate the overwhelming support, kind words & well wishes. If I don’t reply individually, I see it, I feel it. Thank you. Be back soon 🙏🏾😤❤️ https://t.co/NsA0BPzOmK
— Jasmine Thomas (@jaszthomas) May 24, 2022
Thomas has averaged 11.2 points, 4.5 assists, three rebounds and 1.3 steals in 28.6 minutes per game for the Sun. She is fifth in franchise history with 222 games played and first among active players. She missed only seven games in her career to this point. The Sun captain is one of the team's core players that helped them to the 2019 WNBA Finals, which they lost to the Washington Mystics in five games.
"Saddened and disappointed for Jas," Sun head coach and general manager Curt Miller said in a team release. "She has been the epitome of an iron woman throughout her career. We will support her throughout her recovery and continue to lean on her leadership lens from the sideline. We look forward to having her back on the court in the future."
She was a big part of the Sun's league-best defense after ranking top-10 in defensive rating and defensive win shares in 2021.
What Thomas' injury means for the Sun
It's a huge blow to the Sun, who came into the season as favorites to win the title from both writers and sports books. They have come close in recent years and returned 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones as well as a fully healthy Alyssa Thomas.
The team also brought back guard Courtney Williams, a key cog to the 2019 runner-up squad who spent the past two seasons in Atlanta. And DeWanna Bonner, a two-time champion with the Phoenix Mercury, is still in town from their splashy 2020 free agency window.
But not everyone had been on the court together for a season due to injuries and opt-outs. That will continue this season with Thomas' injury. The Sun will also lose the depth they had built since the team will now fall to 10 players. It started the season with the minimum 11, a common practice for teams now given the hard salary cap.
Thomas' injury alone will not allow them to sign another player. An emergency hardship exemption is allowed only when fewer than 10 players are available. A basic hardship exemption is granted when two players are out because of injury, illness or other conditions. Thomas' absence will count toward those throughout the season, but not trigger it now.
The Sun (4-1) are one of two one-loss teams in the league two-plus weeks in, joining the Las Vegas Aces (7-1). They rank second in points per game (86.8) and first in points allowed (72.2). Connecticut hosts the Dallas Wings (4-2) on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET, League Pass).