Newcomer Cappie Pondexter will look to lead New York to its first WNBA title.
Christian Petersen/NBAE/Getty Images

Season Outlook

There’s little doubt that New York was part of the equation in what may very well go down as one of the biggest trades in WNBA history. Between Chicago getting former Libs Shameka Christon and Cathrine Kraayeveld, Phoenix getting Candice Dupree from the Sky and New York picking up Cappie from the Mercury, each team ultimately dished an All-Star in exchange for an All-Star. While it may be hard to judge who the biggest winner is to come out of that trade, New York is hoping Cappie’s knack for winning will do all the talking for them in the form of a shiny trophy at the end of the season.

“We’ll miss Shameka, Cathrine and Loree [Moore] but the excitement of adding Cappie and Taj [McWilliams-Franklin] and Nicole Powell to the mix is really exciting,” said head coach Anne Donovan. “Having had experience with those players in some capacity I know that they’re all tremendous individuals first, team players second. Their talent is going to make just an immediate difference for the Liberty.”

Cappie isn't the only proven winner to come on board this offseason. In 2005 Nicole Powell, who joins as part of the Sacramento dispersal draft, picked up a championship with the Monarchs, ironically beating out McWilliams-Franklin during her Connecticut Sun days. Ultimately, McWilliams-Franklin picked up one of her own with the Detroit Shock in 2008. Plus, the Liberty came out of the 2010 Draft with Kalana Greene, noted for her back-to-back championship years alongside first-overall pick Tina Charles at UConn. She may not rack up a ton of minutes on the perimeter this season, but she will gain invaluable experience during her transition into the league.

There may be a bit of debate surrounding the center position this season for the Liberty, but regardless of who gets the starting job it will likely pan out to be a win-win any way you look at it. Janel McCarville seems like the obvious option, seeing as how she’s held down the 5 spot for the past three seasons and averaged roughly 12.1 PPG in that span. However, acquiring veteran center Taj McWilliams-Franklin during the offseason provides additional depth down the middle, especially when you consider her career average is also a comparable 12.1 PPG. Rebound differential certainly wasn't New York's forte in 2009, but the addition of McWilliams-Franklin should help in that department. Ultimately, Donovan may look to use McWilliams-Franklin and McCarville as a solid one-two punch, with one holding down center and the other playing forward. Given McCarville's knack for playing an aggressive style around the basket (rather than under it), there's a good chance McWilliams-Franklin will get the starting nod at center. Tiffany Jackson and Kia Vaughn will also play some minutes in the paint, an addition that truly opens up the playing field for the Liberty and gives starters a chance to take a breather.

“Janel and Taj have so much experience,” said Donovan. “Tiffany Jackson is coming back strong and Kia Vaughn had a decent rookie year too. She’s looking to break out this year.”

Flexibility may actually be the name of the game all around for New York. Just look around the perimeter. In 2009, Essence Carson was third on the team in points per game behind McCarville and Christon. Pondexter may very well stand atop the team in points by the end of the season, but Carson stands as a consistent contributor that no team can live without. Greene's rookie year and transition to the WNBA may still be in question, but if she's going to learn from the best this early in her career than who better than Pondexter?

Loree Moore played a significant part on New York's point last season, chewing up close to 30 minutes per game. In her absence, Donovan will likely run the offense through Pondexter or swing either Carson or Leilani Mitchell to the one when Cappie takes a breather. Mitchell may not get a ton of minutes, but she stands as yet another role player off the bench and silent contributor. “As a point guard we’re going to rely on [Mitchell] quite a bit,” said Donovan. “I don’t think there’s a lot of expectation on her but she’s going to definitely turn some heads.”

If scoring is the way for Mitchell to get some attention, then it will be a welcome sight for the Liberty. In 2009, New York finished 13th overall in points per game. The addition of Pondexter, last season's fourth-leading scorer, will definitely give a formidable boost on the offensive side of the ball. Not only can she shoot from anywhere on the floor, but she has the ability to create her own shots with ease.

Frank Della Femina

Player on the Spot

With all the talk focused around New York's offseason moves, is it any surprise that Cappie Pondexter is arguably the biggest player on the spot this season for the Liberty? Her move to New York has stirred up plenty of hype, which means plenty of eyes will be watching and criticizing her along the way. She’s expected to bring her championship expertise to the Big Apple. The Liberty wasn’t joking when the team’s site exclaimed they were, “Happy about Cappie.” After all, why wouldn’t they be? Her resume includes two championships, a WNBA Finals MVP award in 2007 and three All-Star nods – all in just four seasons.

Frank Della Femina

Projected Lineup

G.Cappie Pondexter
G.Essence Carson
F.Nicole Powell
F.Janel McCarville
C.Taj McWilliams-Franklin

Players Added

G.Cappie Pondexter
C.Taj McWilliams-Franklin
G.Nicole Powell
G.Kalana Greene
G.Cory Montgomery

Players Lost

G.Loree Moore
G.Cathrine Kraayeveld
G.Loree Moore
G.Ashley Battle

2009 Leaders

PPGShameka Christon16.1
RPGJanel McCarville 5.5
APGLoree Moore 3.9
SPGLoree Moore1.94
BPGJanel McCarville1.38

Team Stats

Points Scored73.9(13th)
Points Allowed74.6 (10th)
Field-Goal Percentage.415 (11th)
Opponents’ FG%.420 (10th)
Rebounding Diff.-3.6(12th)

More »


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