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Season In Review: New York Liberty

As the end of 2020 draws near, WNBA.com is wrapping up this historic season by reviewing each team’s season. Take a look back at notable contributors and season highlights with the 2020 Season In Review. Up first is the New York Liberty.

Overview:

Despite finishing the season with a 2-20 record, the New York Liberty have a young core that showcased grit, hustle, and a fighting spirit. The team’s seven rookies each developed their craft in Bradenton, FL. Among the top 15 rookies in scoring, the Liberty ranked 4th (Jazmine Jones, 10.8), 9th (Jocelyn Willoughby, 5.8) and 15th (Kylee Shook, 4.1).

Thanks to the experienced frontcourt of Amanda Zahui B and Kiah Stokes the Liberty hauled in 35.8 RPG and 4.3 BPG — both ranked second-best in the league. When it came to scoring, New York took full advantage of the charity stripe knocking down a 82.3% of their chances, third-best in the league. While the Liberty may not have finished the season with the record they hoped, the team did exemplify the New York attitude they pride themselves on.

Top Contributors:

Layshia Clarendon:

The 7-year vet averaged a career-high 11.5 PPG on 46.5% shooting. Clarendon posted 13 games in double-digits, including two 20-point games. The experienced guard also dished out a team-high 3.9 APG. While Clarendon’s impact on the court was impressive, her impact off the court might’ve been more so. Clarendon, the First-Vice President of the WNBPA, served on the Social Justice Council along with five other WNBA players. As part of this council, Clarendon helped cultivate designated spaces for community conversations, virtual roundtables and other activations to address this country’s long history of inequality, implicit bias and systemic racism that has targeted black and brown communities.

Amanda Zahui B:

The veteran center has played under three coaches in her five years with the Liberty, yet consistently improves her game year after year. This season, Zahui B recorded career-highs across the board with 9 PPG, 8.5 RPG and 1.8 APG. On August 9, the center led the Liberty in scoring, shooting 6-9 from deep to finish with 20 points. Though Zahui B was a veteran presence for the young Liberty, she is a Free Agent.

Jazmine Jones:

The Louisville product made an impact early, providing a spark off the bench. Jazmine Jones earned a spot on the 2020 WNBA All-Rookie Team after averaging 10.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.3 APG and 1.4 SPG. The rookie’s potential is promising, and when teammate Sabrina Ionescu returns, the backcourt tandem could prove to be a threat.

Season Highlights:

Sabrina Ionescu’s Long-Awaited WNBA Debut:

There was an enormous amount of anticipation surrounding the No.1 pick’s WNBA debut. Sabrina Ionescu recorded a steady 12 PTS, 6 REB, 4 AST and 1 STL in her debut. In her second game, however, the rookie dropped 33 PTS, including six threes to lead the Liberty. She tacked on 7 REB and a team-high 7 AST. In her third game, Ionescu suffered a season-ending ankle injury. On November 2nd Ionescu underwent a minor ankle procedure and is expected to be cleared soon.

First Win:

Head Coach Walt Hopkins earned his first win as a WNBA Head Coach on August 7th in a 74-66 win over the Mystics. Kia Nurse led the team with 17 PTS, while Zahui B and Clarendon each added 14. Zahui B also recorded her 100th career block in the win.

Zahui’s Rebound Record:

On August 29, Zahui B broke the Liberty’s single-game franchise record with 21 rebounds (previous was 19 held by Tina Charles). The center grabbed 13 in just the first half, setting the WNBA record for most first-half rebounds.

Joyner Holmes’ Record-Setting Double-Double:

On August 5, Joyner Holmes came off the bench to record her first career double-double. The forward posted 13 points and 13 rebounds marking the first 13-13 game by a rookie in franchise history.

Jones, Odom Set Liberty Rookie Record in Final Game:

Jones and Leaonna Odom dropped 21 and 20 points respectively to become the first two rookies in franchise history to score 20+ points in the same game. Jones added 7 rebounds and 4 assists to her stat line while Odom shot 83.3% in her final contest.