Liberty Elevate Roster in Solid Draft Showing


New York, New York!

The 2022 WNBA draft occurred in-person for the first time in two years, and it didn’t disappoint. Nor did the New York Liberty, as they secured young talent, selecting Nyara Sabally (5th, F/Oregon), Lorela Cubaj (18th, F/Georgia Tech), and Sika Kone (29th, F/Mali). The Liberty’s frontcourt last season was less than stellar. With these picks, the team attempts to upgrade in that area.

Ducks Reunion in New York

Selecting Nyara Sabally with the fifth pick in the draft was a solid move and could be the steal of the draft if she can stay healthy. Sabally and Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu were teammates in college and should gel immediately. The Oregon product has confidence that she can contribute to the team quickly with the fire she brings on both ends of the floor.

Any Liberty fan seeking excitement about Sabally’s play should check out the clip below. It’s only one game, but it does a tremendous job of displaying her playing energy. She has the exact kind of hustle-grit that New York needs.

Besides her hardworking attitude, Sabally also shows flashes of expert-level shotmaking and footwork by working inside with post moves, using her size against smaller players, and taking jumpers the defense allows. Again, it’s only one game, but if it’s a preview of the future, the league is in trouble.

Many WNBA fans quickly observe that Sabally’s sister, Satou, played a successful role with the Dallas Wings. While this situation may be true, the spotlight should be entirely on Nyara. She is a star in the making and shouldn’t be in her sister’s shadow.

An Italian in New York? Never!

After a shortage of bigs in last year’s campaign, New York ensured that the shortcoming wouldn’t happen again. The second forward they selected, Lorela Cubaj, was the defensive engine driving Georgia Tech last season. Her prowess on that end of the floor should effortlessly transfer to the W, and she is encouragingly excited to be a member of the Liberty organization.

Cubaj averaged 11.1 rebounds per game in her final collegiate season, good for 16th in women’s college basketball. She pestered opposing offenses, too, averaging 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks per game. It’ll be fun to see how the Italian native fits into the squad, though it may be tough to battle for minutes among the other Forwards on the roster.

Upside Galore

Sika Kone has an incredible story. Her path should continue positively, but the Mali native will not be playing for the Liberty this season. It’ll not be easy to find patience in this situation. Not in a foot-tapping, irritating way, but more so because Kone could become the draft’s best player. Scribes see her as a developmental project that would take a few years to blossom into a great player.

With the combination of athleticism and frontcourt skills that Kone possesses, she has tremendous potential and could be a pleasant surprise in the future.

Behind a great pick with Sabally, intelligently selecting the overlooked Cubaj, and practicing patience with Kone, the Liberty proceed from previous disappointment to a future free from despair. New York’s draft picks lift their lamps towards a world of postseason success.

About Mike Perry

NBA and WNBA writer and podcaster

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