Q+A: Dewanna Bonner
The Mercury wing is growing into a star.
by Christian Mordi / @mordi_thecomeup
The game of basketball is too easy; well at least Dewanna Bonner makes it look like that.
In a flash, IO (Instant Offense) was on the attack, plucking her opponent for an easy layup. It can happen quickly, so when I tuned into the Phoenix Mercury game last week, I was glued to the screen. It’s poetry in motion watching the wing weave through defenders for easy buckets.
So later on in the week I prepared for a phone interview with the Phoenix guard. I came into the interview expecting a discussion on how she was a born scorer—to hear her say its all-natural instinct—but that was not the case. I knew instantly there was more to Bonner when I hit her before practice. Too early, I was told—she was working on her ball handling. So I waited until after practice. Too early, again, for the interview—she was putting up shots.
That’s when I realized it wasn’t just instinct—Bonner wasn’t born a star. She worked herself into one. DeWanna just earned my respect, in an instant.
During my interview with the Phoenix Mercury wing we discussed why she fits in the Phoenix style of play, her dominant rebounding at the guard position, future Olympic dreams and more.
SLAM: DeWanna, you’re having a great season thus far, as a young player on a growing team. What was the mindset you took in this offseason to prepare?
Dewanna Bonner: I really focused on being more aggressive this year. Due to a lot of the injuries this year, it helped bring that aggressive mentality that I focused on in the offseason to the forefront.
SLAM: You currently lead your team in rebounding, which is amazing considering you play guard/forward. You pull down 7 per game, what makes rebounding so easy from the wing for you?
DB: I believe rebounding comes down to hustle and who really wants the ball more. I feel that rebounding is a key facet to winning each basketball game. If you can’t rebound the ball, that is a huge problem especially on the defensive end. I just try and help as much as I can, and I feel even being a wing you can be a help in helping clean the boards a little bit. I find rebounding fun actually—it’s exciting to grab a nice board and explode, it showcases where your hops are at. I have always and will always take pride in being an effective rebounder.
SLAM: Coach Gaines has continued the up-tempo style of play from his mentor and previous coach Paul Westhead. Why do you think this style of play fits this team well?
DB: I don’t think we have that big inside where you can slow it down and walk the ball up the floor and play the slow game. This style of play has been effective and Phoenix has won two championships playing that way. I think it’s a staple of this organization and I think that they have done a good job bringing people in who can fit in that style of play.
SLAM: Do you think it showcases your talents the best?
DB: Yes, most definitely. I prefer to run and create as many easy baskets as possible in the open court in comparison to playing a slower game.
SLAM: That style of play, at times, can have its downfalls. Offensively, you average 76, but you are allowing 86. Was the defense something that you ladies focused on during the Olympic break?
DB: I wouldn’t say it was just defense we focused on. We put our efforts toward a variety of things during the break. Defense, offense, we are always looking to get better as a team each day.
SLAM: Tell us a little about Sammy P and how you think she has made the transition from college to the WNBA?
DB: It was great to see how she handled coming in here and getting thrown into the fire early. I feel like she has handled it well and gets the ball where it needs to go within the offense. It’s all a learning experience, though. She hasn’t had the luxury of watching a seasoned vet do it first and then implement what she has seen to her game. She has really done a great job handling the pressure this year.
SLAM: You have won Sixth Player of the Year three times in your career thus far. You mastered being a dominant spark off the bench. With Diana out, you stepped into the starting five and blossomed. Tell us the difference of the two dynamics: starting and being a sixth man.
DB: As a starter, it’s a different element in the fact that you can really work yourself into the flow of the game, a little easier to get a feel and play within the structure of the game plan coach has set forth. Coming of the bench is a different dynamic and a fine art because you have to find a way to use your energy and make an immediate impact on the game.
SLAM: You ladies get Diana back, what do you expect her to bring to the table, and do you expect her leadership and skill set help push you ladies to turn the corner?
DB: We expect Diana to bring her game. She is an All-Star and Olympian. Playing with her makes the game much easier because it takes pressure off a lot of other players because they are forced to focus on her so much.
SLAM: You got the chance to watch a fellow teammate win Gold and competitors alike play in Olympics. You are growing into a star yourself. Do you see yourself competing in the Olympics four years from now?
DB: Yeah, that is a goal I really work hard for. It would be an honor to do that one day. Not my top goal, but something I would prefer to do in my playing days.
SLAM: Tell us some goals for DeWanna Bonner as a player and for the Phoenix Mercury for the rest of the season.
DB: I will look to continue to be aggressive the rest of the season. I really would like to get my shooting percentage up a bit this year. My goal is to push this team forward and get more wins before this season closes out.