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2021 WNBA Team Preview: New York Liberty

From one historic season to another, the WNBA’s 25th season is set to tip off on May 14th. The league will commemorate the 25th season with the campaign “Count It” and a distinguishing and purposeful 25th season logo. The WNBA will also celebrate the ways its players have shattered expectations and have stood at the forefront of advancement, inclusion and social change for 25 years.

In leading up to the season, will break down each team in the league: up next, the New York Liberty.

The Liberty entered 2020 with No. 1 overall pick Sabrina Ionescu and plenty of excitement. But three games into her WNBA career, Ionescu suffered an ankle injury – and the Liberty got through the season and secured the 2021 No. 1 overall pick as well (later traded to Dallas). This season will not only be our first extended look at Ionescu in full pro mode, it’ll be the first time the Liberty play full-time at Barclays Center in Brooklyn for their season home, making for plenty to look forward to after finishing bottom of the league last season.

2020 Season Recap

  • 2-20 regular season record; last in league

Notable Off-Season Moves

The most notable off-season move begins a month after the season ended when Ionescu underwent successful ankle surgery. Come February, the team added the 2020 WNBA Most Improved Player, Betnijah Laney to their roster – and then acquired 2020 WNBA Champion Natasha Howard in a blockbuster trade that also involved the No. 1 overall selection.

It is still unclear what the status of Asia Durr, the 2019 No. 2 overall pick, will be with the New York Liberty in 2021. And as far as the coaching staff – the Liberty brought in Jacki Gemelos, who recently announced her retirement, to serve as an assistant coach.

The Big Question Heading Into 2021?

What’s the Sabrina Effect look like in full-force?

We only received a very small sample size of Sabrina Ionescu’s capabilities at the pro level. So how does one of the best college basketball players ever fare for a full season? Will she be the same scorer as she was pre-injury? How does she lead this Liberty team? Alongside the new additions of Laney and Howard, it should be interesting to see how Ionescu morphs the look of the Liberty.

Draft Rating

Michelle Smith ranked every team’s draft decisions. New York was rated 8th out of the 12 WNBA teams’ picks.

“The Liberty’s first two picks were players who will bring a shot in the arm to training camp and potentially to the roster this season in UCLA’s Michaela Onyenwere and Baylor’s DiDi Richards. Onyenwere wants to prove that even as a “tweener” in terms of size, her athleticism will carry the day and Richards is long, rangy, a strong defender and a proven winner.”

Oh, and we can’t forget the dancing virality of Onyenwere’s grandma on draft night.

Where to Watch

The Liberty tip off their season at Barclays in Brooklyn on Friday, May 14th at 7 pm/ET against the Indiana Fever on NBA TV.