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New York Liberty draft needs season preview: Welcome to Brooklyn, Sabrina Ionescu

The Liberty have a new owner, a new building, and a new superstar to help sell tickets. Things are finally looking up for women’s basketball in NYC.

Stanford v Oregon
Sabrina Ionescu of the Oregon Ducks wears a basketball net around her neck and throws confetti in the air as she celebrates her team’s 89-56 win over the Stanford Cardinal to win the championship game of the Pac-12 Conference women’s basketball tournament at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on March 8, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

12:00 p.m. 4/15: In a three-way deal, the Liberty traded Tina Charles to the Washington Mystics in exchange for the 9th, 12th, and 15th picks in this draft. The Liberty also sent their 2021 second-round pick to the Dallas Wings.

The New York Liberty are one of the original eight WNBA franchises. And in the 23-year history of the league, despite being in the marketing center of the planet, they still haven’t won a title. They moved their games from Madison Square Garden to Westchester two years ago because they couldn’t sell enough tickets in the World’s Most Famous Arena. And you thought James Dolan limited incompetence to only one basketball team!

But they’re back in a borough now, as the team is heading to Brooklyn and Barclay’s Center for the 2020 season after being purchased by Brooklyn Nets minority owner Joe Tsai. And most importantly they’ve got the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft, and that means they’re getting one of the best women’s basketball players alive.

WNBA title odds: 20/1 (DraftKings Sportsbook projected odds)

Offseason moves

The Liberty stood mostly pat, which isn’t always a great idea for a team that was 10-24 the previous season, and dead last in the league defensively by a mile. But they have a young core in Kia Nurse and Asia Durr, and former league MVP and seven-time All-Star Tina Charles is still only 31 years old.

But their biggest move is on draft night, and there hasn’t been a No. 1 overall draft choice in basketball in New York this obvious since Patrick Ewing in 1985.

Additions

Layshia Clarendon

Departures

Bria Hartley

2020 WNBA Draft

Picks

1st round, #1 overall
2nd round, #13 overall
3rd round, #26 overall

Needs

Sabrina Ionescu’s stats are overwhelming, but they’re still not enough to display what kind of player she is. She’s the only college basketball player ever with 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds, male or female. No college basketball player ever had more than 12 career triple-doubles, male or female. She had 26, and Oregon was 26-0 in those games. She’s the evolution of the sport: a 5’11 guard with range anywhere inside the zip code of the rim, a playmaker for her teammates, excellent defensively, and someone that has performed on the biggest stage tremendously.

WNBA commish Cathy Engelbert has to love putting the next star of the sport in the media capital of the world, and Ionescu will very much sell tickets in Brooklyn. At #13, the Liberty have enough holes where taking the best player available in a draft where things are very much in flux is probably the right move.

But have some jerseys ready to sell on right away, as New York is getting its newest basketball star.