Breanna Stewart and Courtney Vandersloot join New York Liberty

New York Liberty Brings In WNBA All-Stars To Shine In Brooklyn

With Kevin Durant packing up and walking away from the Barclays Center in a blockbuster trade to Phoenix, Brooklyn basketball fans are dunking their heads in a bucket of despair. But there’s a new sheriff in town – the New York Liberty are taking over the Big Apple.

If you’re one of those fans, you should throw away your uncertainty about the future of your Brooklyn Nets and pivot your attention to the all-stars moving to your hometown WNBA team. Let me catch you up on all the details.

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Where Our Journey Begins: Liberty Hit A Lull Last Season

If you want to figure out where you’re going, you need to know where you came from – kind of like figuring out New York’s subway system. The Liberty (16-20) weren’t anything special last season, heading into the 2022 playoffs as the seventh seed paired against the defending champion Chicago Sky. New York took the first game in their best-of-three series but the Sky then won two straight to bounce the Liberty out of the postseason. 

Although New York had four players average double-digit points, led by Sabrina Ionescu’s 17.4 points per game, the Liberty finished ninth in the league in scoring, averaging just over 79 points on game nights. In fact, their best offensive accomplishment came when no one else could get in their way, leading the league by shooting 90.2 percent from the free-throw line. But, that won’t be the case this year. Now, the Liberty look like they’re building a team where no one can get in their way, period. 

Next Stop: Championship Contenders, Championship Contenders Station

Somewhere along our underground route, we’ve picked up three all-star passengers. It all started with a three-team blockbuster trade in which the Liberty got their hands on Jonquel Jones, the 2021 WNBA MVP. The 29-year-old is known for being a rebounding machine, courtesy of her six-foot-six height advantage, and topped the league in offensive rebound percentage (10.3).

Up next is another household name, Courtney Vandersloot, who spent 12 seasons with Chicago before being snagged as a free agent. Look for Vandersloot to pass the ball around the court and create plenty of scoring opportunities. The 33-year-old led the league in assists from 2017 to 2021, holds the all-time record for most assists in a single season with 300, and carries the highest career assists per game mark (6.2) and highest single-season assists per game average (9.1). The veteran, with a 2021 championship under her belt, knows her way around the court and is another offensive weapon.

Last but not least, and saving the best for last, Breanna Stewart is joining the club as another free-agent signing after ending her time with the Seattle Storm. The 28-year-old led the WNBA in points last season, pocketing 741 across 34 games – a 15-point lead over Kelsey Plum of the Las Vegas Aces, who played a full season. The 6-4 forward has the directions to WNBA championship territory memorized, hoisting two recent trophies in 2018 and 2020. Stewart also took home the Finals MVP award in those two years and was the regular-season MVP in 2018. 

The Final Destination: Where We Are Headed And What To Expect

Seriously, there’s not much more talent to add to the Liberty roster. The noteworthy additions have made New York a clear contender, alongside the 2022 champion Aces, in the 2023 WNBA championship odds

Sure, the Nets were forced to say goodbye to Durant, their 13-time all-star, but the Barclays Center has a bucketload of elite talent walking through the door. Let’s put this into perspective for you. Stewart averaged 21.8 PPG last year, more than any player left on the Nets, with Durant and Kyrie Irving having moved on. Jones’ 8.6 rebounds per game would rank second on the Nets, just slightly behind Nic Claxton (9.0). Lastly, Vandersloot’s 6.5 assists per game would lead the Nets, topping Ben Simmons’ 6.1 APG. The court won’t be without action at the Barclays Center – this year, it’ll just be the women turning heads. 

The 2022 WNBA season attracted the league’s highest viewership since 2006, including a 45 percent increase from 2021 during the semifinals. If you aren’t tuning in to women’s basketball, then you’re missing out. More importantly, if you’re near Brooklyn and want to see some real talent at Barclays, be sure to catch a Liberty game this year. The upcoming campaign tips off May 19 with teams playing a record-high 40-game regular-season schedule. 

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