DeWanna Bonner has been unstoppable force for Phoenix in playoffs

DeWanna Bonner is averaging 25.4 points and 12.4 rebounds in the playoffs, and shooting 58.2 percent. Joshua Huston/NBAE via Getty Images

PHOENIX -- After giving birth to twins in July 2017, DeWanna Bonner has felt too tired to even move at times in the past year. Yet this WNBA season, she has been wearing out opponents. And that has been all the more the case during the playoffs.

The Mercury forward is averaging 25.4 points and 12.4 rebounds in five postseason games and shooting 58.2 percent from the field. She has always been a good player since being drafted No. 5 out of Auburn in 2009. But these postseason numbers, coming as she has been moved to power forward, are the best of her career.

And Bonner didn't just lead the way in minutes played this season for Phoenix, which will try to even its semifinal series with top-seeded Seattle in Game 4 on Sunday (ESPN2, 5 p.m. ET). She played the most minutes of anyone in the WNBA: 1,120 in starting all 34 games.

Bonner was tied for third in per-game average at 32.9 minutes, just behind Dallas' Skylar Diggins-Smith (34.1), who missed two games, and New York's Tina Charles (33.0), who missed one. In the playoffs, Bonner leads the way in total minutes (196 in five games) and average (39.2).

"I've told her, 'You have to look at me if you get tired,'" Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said. "I forget to take her out sometimes; I think she's a machine."

She has played like that, even early in the summer when she was still getting her wind back. During the regular season, Bonner averaged 17.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists. The only season Bonner had a higher scoring average (20.6) was in 2012, when Diana Taurasi missed much of the season and Brittney Griner was still in college. This could be considered Bonner's most impressive season, especially considering the comeback from childbirth.

Dallas, Connecticut and Seattle -- Phoenix's playoff foes -- would attest to that.

"She is so unguardable sometimes," Taurasi said. "It's all about matchups. I think it's really hard for them to key in on her. Especially when they are spending so much time on pick-and-roll defense, and trapping, and rotating on [Griner].

"We always say with that 4 position -- if you can shoot, dribble and pass and play the 4 in this league, you'll have a great career."

Bonner has spent more time at the 3, or small forward, in her WNBA career. But Sancho Lyttle's season-ending knee injury on June 30 left the Mercury searching for an answer at power forward. Around the start of August, Bonner talked to Brondello and made the move.

"I was worried about the physicality -- was she ready for that?" Brondello said. "But she's a fighter. She showed me her toughness. She's like Diana: win at all costs. She'll do whatever it takes."

Bonner said she has played power forward overseas, and the biggest difference is that it is more physical.

"There are days when my body is like, 'Oh, God,'" she said. "There is great talent in the league at that position, and you have to box out and bang. But it's OK. I can do it."

Bonner always has been a difficult player to compare to anyone else. At 6-foot-4 and very thin at just over 140 pounds, she is deceptively strong. And fitness was never an issue in her life, until returning from pregnancy.

"I could play and run all day; that wasn't a problem for me," Bonner said. "Then here I was not being able to run up and down the court for 10 minutes.

"At first, I couldn't jump, my knees are hurting -- those things were some of the hardest to deal with. It took a lot of time to get back; a lot of agility and weight-room workouts."

Of course, "a lot of time" is a relative term; she's in dominant form already with her daughters just over a year old. Cali and Demi spent much of the summer in Phoenix with Bonner, but now are in Florida with her wife, fellow WNBA player Candice Dupree of the Fever.

"Flying in a plane with them right now is terrible, because they are so active and all over the place," Bonner said, laughing. "So they're at home watching."

When the WNBA season is over, Bonner will compete in China, although she doesn't have to go there until near the end of October. Dupree might play overseas after the first of the year. Bonner said they're able to balance parenting and the relationship with help from their families and the understanding they both have about their basketball careers.

"Both of us know this business and what to expect," Bonner said. "We've gone through it before the kids came. We just keep the communication open all the time."

Much as she misses being with her family now, Bonner hopes the Mercury's season keeps going. She was a huge part of extending it Friday, with 27 points and 11 rebounds in Phoenix's 86-66 Game 3 victory.

"She's a fighter. She showed me her toughness. She's like Diana: Win at all costs. She'll do whatever it takes." Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello on DeWanna Bonner

Storm forward Breanna Stewart, the 2018 league MVP, and center Natasha Howard talked about the difficulty of attempting to stop Bonner.

"You have to try to stay in front of her," Howard said. "We know that Bonner's going to be Bonner, no matter what. We just have to stay with our game plan and limit her touches, and also make her work on the defensive end."

Stewart said Bonner's versatility and quickness present challenges.

"She has the dribble-drive capabilities, and she has deep range," Stewart said. "So you have to somehow try to combat the two. Don't let her shoot a long 3 uncontested, but also don't get too close, because then she'll go past you."

With small forward Stephanie Talbot out Sunday for a second consecutive game with a concussion and the Mercury not going much to their posts on the bench, Bonner -- like the rest of the starters -- will continue to carry a big load.

"She had to get game conditioning," Brondello said. "She wasn't DeWanna at the start of the year. She had glimpses, but a little fatigue would set in and she couldn't fight it as much. Once she got better conditioned, she could fight it and fatigue wasn't an issue. She impresses me more and more."