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WNBA Draft 2018 Preview: New York Liberty

2017 Record: 22-12, No. 3 seed in Playoffs, Eliminated by Mystics in Second Round

Key Offseason Moves:

  • Re-signed Tina Charles, Kia Vaughn, Bria Hartley, Lindsay Allen and Rebecca Allen
  • Signed free agents Rashada Gray, Jillian Alleyne, Kelly Faris and Ify Ibekwe
  • Named Katie Smith as head coach

Last Year’s Draft Picks:

  • 2nd Round/No. 14 Overall – Lindsay Allen (from Dallas)
  • 3rd Round/No. 34 Overall – Kai James

This Year’s Draft Picks:

  • 1st Round/No. 10 Overall
  • 2nd Round/No. 22 Overall
  • 3rd Round/No. 34 Overall

2017 Season Highlights:

Team Needs/Draft Strategy:

The Liberty enter the 2018 season with a new head coach (newly named Hall of Famer Katie Smith) and an ownership situation in flux as the Madison Square Garden Company will continue to operate the team while it pursues a sale. Meanwhile, the team will now call The Westchester County Center (located in White Plains, NY) its new primary home with select games to be played at The Garden.

Focusing on the team on the court, the Liberty have been one of the best regular season teams over the past three years, but have not found the same success in the playoffs. New York has won at least 21 games in each of the past three years and finished the season as the top team in the Eastern Conference.

In 2015, the final season of East vs. West playoffs, the Liberty were the top seed in the East, beat Washington in the first round before falling to Indiana in the Conference Finals. In each of the past two years with the new playoff format, the Liberty have finished as the No. 3 seed behind Minnesota and Los Angeles, giving New York an opening round bye. However, the Liberty have lost in the single-elimination second round both years – to Phoenix in 2016 and Washington in 2017.

This offseason, the Liberty designated Tina Charles as its core player, ensuring that the eight-time All-WNBA performer will continue to be the centerpiece in New York. The team also re-signed a pair of free agents – guard Bria Hartley and center Kia Vaughn. Hartley is part of a strong backcourt that includes Epiphanny Prince, Sixth Woman of the Year Sugar Rodgers and Brittany Boyd, who is returning from an Achilles injury. Vaughn joins a frontcourt headlined by Charles and supported by Kiah Stokes and Amanda Zahui B.

As far as targets in the draft, the Liberty could look to add another scorer on the wing that can shoot from distance. New York ranked in the bottom half of the league in both 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage last season. A few prospects to keep an eye on here are Mississippi State’s Victoria Vivians (if she falls this low), Texas’ Ariel Atkins and UConn’s Kia Nurse.