Alyssa Thomas’ Career Year Fueling Sun

Before the start of the 2017 WNBA season, when asked if there is a player on the Sun who deserves more recognition and notoriety, guard Jasmine Thomas responded with little hesitation.

“Alyssa,” she said decisively while nodding her head. “Absolutely. I think she’s going to have a big year for us. She’s someone you can always count on. Super versatile – she does a little bit of everything.

“I can see Alyssa taking her game to another level, for sure.”

You nailed it, Jasmine.

The Sun are rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the East, and the play of fourth-year forward Thomas – who had 19 points, five assists and five rebounds while making 8-of-11 shots at Dallas Sunday – is a major reason why.

Thomas is averaging career highs in points (13.6), assists (4.6), minutes (30.6), field goal percentage (50) and steals (1.36). Her assists per game doubles her former career-high of 2.3 (2016). In fact, Thomas joins Candace Parker (4.5) as the only forwards in the top 10.

Phenomenal numbers, no doubt.

However, the most noteworthy improvement from Thomas this year is undeniably her increased efficiency on both ends of the floor – and “increased” is putting it mildly. Her net rating (the difference in team points scored and allowed per 100 possessions) is 14.7, shattering her previous best of -0.1.

In other words, both Thomas’ offensive rating of 110.3 (the higher the better) and defensive rating of 95.6 (the lower the better) are, by far, the best of her career. It should be no surprise, then, that those numbers are directly correlating with Sun wins.

“I don’t want to be a one-dimensional player,” Thomas humbly said. “I like to try to do more for the team on both ends. That’s assists, rebounds, steals – whatever it is. We have so many offensive weapons out there now; I just try to create and [my teammates] do the rest. I can’t take too much credit; they are the ones hitting the shots.”

Aside from her stellar numbers, it’s Thomas’ steady, calming presence that has proven to be invaluable for this young Sun team.

She’s quickly become Curt Miller’s “rock.”

“She’s defending, distributing, rebounding and scoring,” Miller said. “With all of our injuries, she’s not only played the three, but the four as well. She’s been a huge piece of the puzzle as of late. We’re very excited with how well she’s played the four, especially the past few games.”

If this trend continues, look for Thomas to make a legitimate case for an All-Star spot…or even for Most Improved Player.

For Thomas, though, all that matters is the team’s success.

“We’re playing really well together right now,” she said. “We’re having fun and happy for each other. You can see it on the court, and we’re looking a lot better.”