DeWanna Bonner Selfless, Consistent
Having covered DeWanna Bonner since her rookie year in 2009, I can honestly say there hasn’t been a single time I’ve been around DB where I haven’t seen her smile at least twice.
That’s just who she is – bubbly, lively and full of energy.
On the court, however, she’s all business; her thirst for winning is equally as insatiable as the game’s greats.
Though, as cliché as it sounds, what ultimately separates Bonner from other players is how palpable her team-first mentality is.
There’s little doubt that the more minutes Bonner gets, the better her numbers become. But as a member of the Mercury over the past three seasons, the team has needed her to be more of a spark plug off the bench rather than playing 30-35 minutes each night.
This season? That’s definitely going to change.
It already has.
Over the Mercury’s first two games, Bonner is averaging career-highs in points (19.0) and assists (4.5), to go along with 4 rebounds – all while shooting a blistering 50 percent from the floor. She’s also getting over 34 minutes of playing time (another career-high) due to the absence of Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor.
Yet, even if Bonner only plays 20-25 minutes per game (comparable to her career average of 24.1 mpg), she’ll never once complain or make it about her.
Rather, she has always maintained that she’ll do anything the team needs her to do – score, rebound, defend, etc. – and it’s worth noting that Bonner’s job is much easier said than done.
The three-time WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year not only has to come into the game and produce right away, it’s imperative for her to integrate effectively with every single player on the team. She’ll play significant minutes with the starters, but she’ll also need to be more of a leader while playing with the bench. This distinctive, unique versatility allows Corey Gaines the freedom to experiment with a wide range of lineups.
After all, any coach would relish having a 6-4 player on the wing that can score, but also has an aptitude for rebounding and running the floor.
In basketball (or any sport for that matter), a player’s value shouldn’t only be predicated on quantifiable data – DeWanna Bonner illustrates this perfectly. Can she score the ball? Obviously. Can she rebound and defend? You bet. Those things show up on the stat sheet.
But what doesn’t show up in the box score is the havoc and frustration her mere presence on the floor creates for the opposition.
For example, if Bonner plays the ‘3’ (as she will for the majority of the 2012 season), teams have to adjust accordingly due to her height and how she affects the game from a defensive standpoint. Gaines can also have Bonner guard bigger, quicker players (like the Sparks’ Candace Parker) which, again, forces other teams to modify their style of play.
Likewise, Gaines has often said it’s his fault that DeWanna Bonner hasn’t been selected to an All-Star game yet. Of course, he is referring to the fact that in the Mercury’s system, Bonner plays such a unique role that she usually doesn’t get the credit she deserves.
Still, Bonner’s brilliance certainly doesn’t get overlooked by her teammates, staff, and Mercury fans worldwide.
The term ‘invaluable’ is often tossed around carelessly and ad nauseum. Indeed, there’s no better way to describe DeWanna Bonner’s role on the Phoenix Mercury.
Could this be the season where DeWanna Bonner officially emerges as an unmistakable superstar in the WNBA?
Many (including the writer of this article) would say she’s already there.