Alyssa Thomas is having a season like no different participant within the W. Two years after rupturing her Achilles tendon whereas enjoying abroad, the Connecticut Solar ahead is dominating each side of the sport and stuffing stat sheets on a nightly foundation. AT is averaging a career-high in factors (15.5), leads the League in rebounds (9.9) and ranks second in assists (7.9).
“It was tremendous arduous,” Thomas, who’s in her tenth season, says about away from the sport. “That complete course of—that was my first main damage, which I wanted surgical procedure on. I used to be enjoying some actually nice basketball. There’s at all times that behind your thoughts that you just gained’t be the identical participant…It was a really arduous restoration mentally and bodily for me.”
The stigma that comes with struggling an damage of that magnitude—whether or not she’d return to regular kind—crept behind her thoughts, however Thomas knew she couldn’t sulk regardless of feeling like she hit all-time low. Throughout that darkish interval, DeWanna Bonner, her All-Star teammate and fiancée, got here to her support to let her know there was a lightweight on the finish of the tunnel.
“She got here to see me after I had my surgical procedure, I hadn’t left my room and she or he wasn’t having it,” Thomas says with fun.” She made me come out of my room and took me out. From that second on, that jump-started me to getting my stuff collectively and attacking the rehab.”
On the eve of the playoffs, AT has a League-record 27 double-doubles and is the primary participant in WNBA historical past to guide the League in complete rebounds (394) and assists (316) in the identical season. Thomas additionally turned the primary participant to publish 25 factors, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and 5 steals in a sport. She joined A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart within the MVP race.
“It’s large,” she says of the popularity. “I feel that’s the best accolade you will get as an athlete on this sport. On your identify to go down as an MVP, that’s one thing that stands without end. With so many nice gamers which are enjoying now and have gone via this League to be an MVP, and [to] stand with all different MVPs—like I stated, the hugest honor you possibly can accomplish.”
Thomas acknowledges that she likes to let her sport do the speaking and doesn’t get caught up in all of the hoopla of the MVP race, rankings and championship favorites from outsiders.
“For me, it’s rather a lot,” she says. “I’m not one which’s massive on social media and all the eye, so the truth that there’s one thing with folks speaking concerning the race or interviews asking why you have to be the MVP—I’m undoubtedly prepared for the MVP [talk to be over] so I can deal with the playoffs.”
Regardless of being an MVP contender and main the No. 3-ranked Solar to a 27-13 common season document, Thomas feels she and the crew have been missed all through the season.
“While you take a look at the preseason rankings, we have been nowhere close to the highest,” she says. “So many individuals talked about [the fact] that we misplaced [in the WNBA Finals] and kinda forgot about what we did have. We actually are a contender, and I don’t suppose anybody’s been speaking about us.”
Whether or not she’s named MVP or not, AT has her sights set on one thing larger than particular person accolades: a WNBA championship. After falling brief in 2019 and final season, the do-it-all ahead is hungrier than ever and centered on bringing the franchise its first-ever title come October.
“The one factor about me is that my sport is totally different,” she says. “I carry a distinct look to the sport, but I’m enjoying arduous every sport—the identical depth and power stage. The largest factor is I’ve by no means modified who I’m as a participant, made my type or how I play basketball match into this League. I feel that’s an enormous motive why I’m having a season that has by no means been seen earlier than.”
Images by way of Getty Photos.