WNBA

Liberty Youth Movement Will Shape Off-season Moves

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Each week over the first three months of the offseason, we will look at what each team has in store for free agency. We will look at pending free agents and then consider who may be a logical target for them to bring in. This series will start in standings order for the teams that missed the postseason and then go in order of elimination when it comes to playoff teams. We have looked at the Washington Mystics, Los Angeles Sparks, Atlanta Dream and Indiana Fever. Today we move into the first round of the playoffs, looking at the New York Liberty.

After posting the worst record in the bubble, the Liberty rebounded in a major way with a completely revitalized roster. Returning to the playoffs, boasting a first-time All-Star and the Rookie of the Year, fortunes are finally starting to turn. So what does the offseason have in store for Seafoam SZN?

Pending Free Agents

Coming out of the season, the Liberty already have 12 committed roster spots. Only three of those contracts are guaranteed so there is plenty of room for change down the line, including potentially bringing back any of their potential free agents.

Reshanda Gray and Rebecca Allen are the only unrestricted free agents on the roster. Gray played in 15 games during her second stop in the Big Apple, averaging 5.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. Allen returned after missing the bubble season and posted her best statistical season yet, averaging 9.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 1.2 blocks and 1.1 assists per game. Something of an enigma, she nailed 38.1 percent of her 3-point shots while shooting 28.9 percent inside the arc.

Paris Kea is a reserved free agent but has not appeared in a game for the Liberty since the bubble. Rounding out the free agents is the suspended contract of Marine Johannes. Johannes played for the Liberty in 2019 but has not returned from overseas since the pandemic. Since then, she has played for the French National team and must decide if she wants to return stateside.

The Plan Forward for the Liberty

For the Liberty, this next season will need to be the next step forward. They were competitive for much of the season, despite injuries keeping prized free agent Natasha Howard out of the lineup for 19 of the 32 games. This coming year, combining their young core with the veterans they added a season ago should go a long way to getting them into the postseason for the second consecutive season.

Of the players not on the roster last season, welcoming back Asia Durr should be a bright spot next season. The former number two overall pick missed the last two seasons due to COVID-19 complications but announced last week that she is cleared to return. During her rookie season, she showed a solid scoring touch and would be able to develop off the bench without the pressure to be an immediate contributor.

Beyond that, either bringing back or finding a way to replace Allen’s 3-point stroke should be the priority this offseason. Shooting from distance was the calling card for the Liberty this season, as they led the league in attempts and were third in percentage. The more capable shooters they can boast, the more difficult they will be to defend.

Parting Thoughts

Do not let any of the off-the-court narratives take away from the strides the Liberty made this season. Had Sabrina Ionescu been healthy the entire bubble season, there would have been a reasonable possibility the team would be boasting consecutive Rookies of the Year. Michaela Onyenwere was a fantastic addition in the first round and second round standout DiDi Richards helps to cement the young core. Betnijah Laney joined the Liberty as the Most Improved Player in the league and got even better and could take another leap in this system. It has taken some time, but there is true positive momentum surrounding the New York Liberty.

About Corey Rausch

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