Finishing the 2019 season with a 10-24 record, the New York Liberty did not qualify for the WNBA Playoffs for the second straight season. Despite that, a series of positive flashes on the court last season, along with a potentially impactful offseason, leaves New York in good shape for 2020 and beyond.
Considering this, let’s take a look back at the Liberty’s 2019 season in review.
Leaders: Points (Charles, 16.9); Rebounds (Charles, 7.5); Assists (Boyd, 4.6); Steals (Boyd, 1.4); Blocks (Zahui B, 1.4)
Selected first overall in the 2010 WNBA Draft, Tina Charles has been a top-tier player in the league ever since. Finishing her 10th season in the WNBA, Charles has shown no signs of slowing down. The 7x WNBA All-Star and 2012 WNBA MVP averaged 16.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, leading the Liberty in both of these categories. At 30 years old, Charles is still one of the most dominant bigs in the league and one of the most consistent competitors this league has ever seen.
The Emergence of Kia Nurse
The No. 10 pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft, Kia Nurse enjoyed a productive rookie season. Her sophomore season, however, established her as one of the most promising up-and-coming guards in the league. In 2019, Nurse averaged 13.7 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game, which were all career highs. Nurse also made her first WNBA All-Star appearance, starting for Team Delle Donne and scoring 15 points in the 2019 WNBA All-Star Game. At 23 years old and approaching her third season in the league, the Liberty should feel very comfortable with Kia Nurse being an integral part of the team’s future.
In 2019, the Liberty finished 12th in the league in defensive rating, opponent points per game and opponent points off turnovers. Finishing 12th in any of these categories makes it challenging to win games, and it is likely one of the reasons why the Liberty missed the postseason. When looking forward to what they need to improve upon, it’d be safe to assume the Liberty will target defensive improvements.
Although the 2020 offseason has just begun for many, the Liberty made moves immediately following the conclusion of the 2019 season. The team announced that head coach Katie Smith will not return, which opens the door to a coaching search. The Liberty also announced that starting in 2020 they will play their home games at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY meaning the team will move back to NYC after playing the past two seasons at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, NY. Along with a pending coaching change and move to the Big Apple, New York won the WNBA Draft Lottery and will hold the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft 2020.