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New York Liberty 2020 WNBA Draft recap

Ever since the WNBA draft lottery was held back on September 17, the New York Liberty had Sabrina Ionescu locked into their #1 pick.

The WNBA Draft was, essentially, the first live sporting event to happen since sports got shut down on March 12 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. League commissioner, Cathy Engelbert, announced the picks from her home in New Jersey. At 7:15 pm, Ionescu was officially announced as the Liberty’s #1 overall pick.

The Oregon sensation is already expected to be the Liberty’s next big superstar and the first under their new ownership of Joseph Tsai and the Brooklyn Nets. Jersey sales for Ionescu have already sold out and will be on backorder until September. The Liberty saw a similar result after releasing their alternative black jerseys. It’s evident that the Liberty is heading in a new direction under the guidance of new head coach Walt Hopkins, new GM Jonathan Kolb, a new arena at the Barclays Center, a new logo, and now a new star in Sabrina Ionescu.

After picking Ionescu with the #1 pick, the Liberty had two more picks in the first round and two more in the second. Three of the picks were recently secured through the trade of former Liberty superstar Tina Charles.

With the #9 pick, the Liberty drafted UCONN’s early entry, Meghan Walker. Walker gives the team a flex 3/4 type player who can shoot a  high volume from three-point range and has the ability to crash the boards.

With the #12 pick, Kolb and Hopkins added Louisville guard Jazmine Jones. A bit of a surprise here, as the Liberty already has a deep guard rotation set. Hopkins spoke highly of Jones after drafting her, pairing her with her former Louisville teammate, Asia Durr. Jones brings a strong defensive presence game to the game. Additionally, she is a solid slasher who can get to the basket.

With the start of the second round, the Liberty selected another Louisville player. With the #13 pick, the team selected Kylee Shook. Shook, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, should easily slide into the Liberty’s rotation.

With the #15 pick, the Liberty added Duke wing Leaonna Odom. Odom, like Meghan Walker, gives the Liberty another flex 3/4 player. Though Odom is more of an inside player and lacks a three-point shot, Odom gives the Liberty a solid scorer inside. Additionally, she can help Amanda Zahui B play more of an outside game if paired up together.

The Liberty’s last pick #26 was Rice’s guard, Erica Ogwumike. Ogwumike is the sister of Los Angeles Sparks players, Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike. Immediately following their pick, Ogwumike was traded to the Minnesota Lynx for the rights to veteran Stephanie Talbot. Talbot adds a veteran on the outside for the Liberty and will be paired up with her fellow Aussie, Rebecca Allen.

Immediately following the draft, the Liberty traded for Virginia’s Jocelyn Willoughby, the #10 pick by the Phoenix Mercury. In exchange, the Liberty sent recently acquired guard, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough. Hopkins spoke highly of Willoughby and was hoping she’d fall to #12. Willoughby is a high volume scorer with a solid three-point shot and the ability to drive to the basket. A solid rebounder for 6’0″, Willoughby should slide into the rotation nicely to fit into the new “Waltball” type of play that new coach Walt Hopkins is planning on.

The Liberty’s roster now stands at 18 players. Whenever training camps open, the Liberty will only be capable of carrying 15 players. With the delay in training camps and the season, there’s no rush to cut anybody. The likelihood of 6 rookies making the final roster of 12 is unlikely, but it certainly brings into question whether veteran players like Brittany Boyd, newly acquired guard Tayler Hill, and journeywoman Reshanda Gray will be in a Liberty jersey come the start of the 2020 WNBA season.

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