The signature shot of Tiffany Hayes’ career sunk the Connecticut Sun, when, in 2018, Hayes drilled an improbable game-winner — the longest shot in WNBA history — to steal a win for her Atlanta Dream.
Now, the hope is that Hayes will provide such heroics for the Sun.
On Feb. 9, Connecticut sent the sixth pick in the 2023 draft to Atlanta in exchange for Hayes, who entered the offseason on a suspended contract due to missing the final two games of the Dream’s 2022 season because of overseas obligations.
A two-time national champion as a member of the UConn Huskies, Hayes returns to Connecticut after a 10-year tenure with the Dream that exceeded the expectations of even the most ardent UConn faithful. The 14th pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft, Hayes leaves Atlanta as the second-best player in franchise history, trailing only the iconic Angel McCoughtry.
With a combination of shiftiness, speed and spunk, Hayes has emerged as one the preeminent rim threats in the WNBA, able to earn an advantage on the perimeter, navigate a crowded paint and convert crafty finishes. She is just as impactful on the other side of the floor, willing to exert the energy and effort necessary to pressure and pester opposing offensive players.
While injuries and other absences limited Hayes to 11 games last season, she was excellent when on the court, scoring 16.2 points per game on a career-high true shooting percentage of 64 percent. Hayes also finished with the best 3-point shooting percentage of her career at 42.9. Although her counting stats on the defensive end were below her career averages, she demonstrated a commitment within Atlanta head coach Tanisha Wright’s aggressive system.
Her skillset undoubtedly should enhance the Sun. As noted in our last update, the Sun roster lacked elite creation from the perimeter, a role that Hayes now fills. Her improved 3-point shooting also adds another needed element to the Sun offense. Although it is unclear what kind of defensive system new head coach Stephanie White will implement, Hayes possesses the athleticism and instincts that suggest she will augment whatever strategy White adopts.
Amongst all the offseason hullabaloo, it is likely that Connecticut’s addition of Hayes will go overlooked. Yet, the Sun have leveled up by acquiring Hayes, making them a surefire playoff-caliber team that could conceivably challenge the league’s top teams.
We, of course, already knew that Brionna Jones would be central to the Sun’s highest aspirations. Finally, her return to Connecticut is official. Cored by the franchise after the departure of Jonquel Jones, Breezy is back on a one-year deal of $208,000.
Agreeing to a contract with B. Jones below the supermax number of $234,936 allows Connecticut to give Hayes up to $149,355, according to Richard Cohen of Her Hoop Stats. Hayes receiving the maximum amount possible would effectively extinguish the Sun’s cap space, with 11 players on the final roster. If Connecticut chooses to roster a 12th player, recent training camp invitees Kristine Anigwe and Lauren Cox will be among those fighting for the final spot.
*All salary numbers come from Her Hoop Stats.