With some unfinished business on the docket for 2020, the Connecticut Sun aim to focus on who's available to help that cause rather than who will not be around.
Minus one of the WNBA's top players, but showcasing another of the league's other best performers, the Sun open the season against the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
There's no doubt 2019 was a special season for Connecticut, going 23-11 for the second-best record in the league. However, an 89-78 loss to Washington in the decisive Game 5 of the WNBA Finals still might sting some months later.
However, taking the next step and winning it all during this unique 2020 season, delayed by the coronavirus pandemic and forcing play into the "Wubble" of the famed Florida athletic complex, won't be all that easy.
While the addition of three-time All-Star star DeWanna Bonner (17.2 points per game, 7.6 rpg in 2019) is a big haul for the Sun, but star forward and 2019 leading scorer and rebounder Jonquel Jones (14.6 ppg, 9.7 rpg) won't be around to play along side her new teammate. Jones is opting out of the season as caution for the virus. Courtney Williams was dealt to Atlanta and Shekinna Stricklen also signed with the Dream.
Connecticut does return Alyssa Thomas, a solid all-around performer who averaged 11.6 points, 7.8 boards and 3.1 assists in 2019. Jasmine Thomas (11.1 ppg, 5.1 apg) is also back to run the show for the Sun, which were among top defensive teams in the league allowing an average of 77.9 points.
"I think we still have a good core group," forward Brionna Jones told the Hartford Courant.
"Having the experience of playing in the Finals and everything, I think that's going to help us bring that same energy when we start the season. There's still people doubting us a little bit this year, but we're ready and we're hungry and we're going to show the respect that we earned.
"We earned that."
The Sun actually dropped two of the three meetings last season with Minnesota, which looks to become the third franchise in WNBA history to reach the playoffs in at least 10 consecutive seasons. After going 18-16 without superstar Maya Moore, who remains away from the game, it's still never wise to count out the Lynx for any reason.
Perhaps because coach Cheryl Reeve is among the best in the business and league legend Sylvia Fowles (13.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg) is still going strong. Not to mention reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year Napheesa Collier (13.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg) is back to build on a stellar first season.
"It's high energy, and I love that," forward Karima Christmas-Kelly told the Lynx's official website of the club. "When everybody's doing great things, everybody's going to get rewarded for that."
Minnesota also appears excited about rookie guard Crystal Dangerfield, a former teammate of Collier's at UConn who slipped to the No. 16 spot in the draft. The Lynx took combo forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan, out of South Carolina, with the sixth overall selection.