Sun's Jasmine Thomas thrives despite added workload
Mohegan — Jasmine Thomas is doing well, thank you. No need to fret about her.
Thomas has taken on a bigger workload for the Connecticut Sun ever since fellow point guard Layshia Clarendon suffered a season-ending ankle injury late last month. Her minutes have gone up a scooch, which could be worrisome given that she plays nearly year-round in the WNBA and overseas.
Thomas said the extra work hasn't been a problem, and she'll be back to the grind Thursday when the Sun host the Phoenix Mercury (7 p.m., Mohegan Sun Arena, CBS Sports Network).
"I think there's plenty of people my age (29) playing these minutes, so I can't complain about it," Thomas said. "We definitely miss (Clarendon), but one man goes down, you just have to work with what you've got.
"Yeah, I feel fine. I ask for a sub when I need it, and I take care of myself off the court."
Point guard was going to be one of the Connecticut's biggest strengths this season. It had the rare luxury of having two starting-caliber players who, during their respective careers, have been chosen by opposing coaches as an All-Star.
Thomas averaged 28.1 minutes through the first nine games with Clarendon coming off the bench and excelling as Connecticut's top reserve. There were times when head coach Curt Miller played the two together.
Clarendon stepped on a teammate's foot during a June 19 practice. She had surgery to repair the peroneal retinaculum and stabilize the dislocated peroneal tendons in her right ankle a week later.
Thomas has averaged 31.4 minutes since. She doesn't lead the team in minutes — Alyssa Thomas has averaged 30.3 — but more work is more work.
Oddly enough, Phoenix's Brittney Griner (34.5) and DeWanna Bonner (33.9) were first and second in the league in minutes after Tuesday's games.
"I've just got to pick-and-choose (when to rest)," Jasmine Thomas said. "The good thing is that we have so many weapons that I don't have to carry that (offensive) load. I get to still kind of exert my energy on defense, be a leader, and pushing that tempo."
Defense is part of Thomas' DNA. She and fellow guard Alana Beard of the Los Angeles Sparks are the only players to earn first team All-Defensive honors the past two seasons, as chosen by league coaches. She was second team in 2016.
Thomas had one of her best shooting nights of the season during Tuesday's 100-94 win over the Chicago Sky. She hit 7 of her 8 shots, including three 3-pointers, and scored 18 points with eight assists.
Thomas ranks fourth in the WNBA in assists (5.6) and ninth in steals (1.5). She's also Connecticut's second-leading scorer (12.1 ppg).
"It's what she's done every season," said fellow Sun captain Alyssa Thomas. "She plays high-energy minutes. She's the leader of our team"
The Sun (14-6) have the league's longest active winning streak (five) and are tied for first place in the overall standings with the Las Vegas Aces.
The Mercury (10-9) can attest to having to work with what you've got as they've managed a winning record despite mounting injuries.
Eternal state favorite Diana Taurasi needed back surgery before the season, played 16 minutes against the Sun in her season-debut on July 12, and hasn't played since. She didn't make this road trip with her team.
Reserve post Sancho Lyttle injured her knee in that July 12 game and is out 3-5 weeks. Starter Essence Carson injured her right calf during a July 20 game at the Dallas Wings and is out five-to-seven weeks.
Phoenix, despite being down to nine players, has still found ways to win eight of its last 12 games. Griner (19.7 ppg) and Bonner (19.1) lead the league in scoring, and both have also averaged 7.3 rebounds.
Leilani Mitchell (28 points), Griner (30), and Bonner (25) accounted for all but 10 points in the Mercury's 99-93 loss at Washington on Tuesday night. Mitchell also tied a league-record with eight 3-pointers.