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New York Liberty’s Sabrina Ionescu: Everything you need to know about her WNBA debut – Latest Breaking News Updates

As Sabrina Ionescu transitions from the colourful inexperienced of the Oregon Ducks to the seafoam inexperienced of the New York Liberty for the 2020 WNBA season, some issues really feel fairly acquainted for her. Ionescu, the No. 1 choose in April’s draft, is one among seven rookies with the Liberty this season.

“You know, it reminds me a lot of my freshman year at Oregon because we had seven freshmen,” she mentioned. “The ability to learn and adapt and not really know any better. We’re playing with no pressure, honestly. No one expects us to be very good. I think having that underdog mentality that we’re all going to have, it’s going to help us. Maybe teams are gonna overlook us.”

That is not probably — not with the highest choose coming into the league after redefining college basketball. Last we noticed Ionescu on court docket, she was main Oregon to the Pac-12 tournament title. The coronavirus pandemic canceled the 2020 NCAA match and delayed the May begin of the WNBA season. Now Ionescu makes her skilled debut Saturday (ESPN, midday ET) against the Seattle Storm, the league favorites on this shortened, 22-game season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

How can you watch Ionescu and the Liberty this season?

Starting Saturday, the Liberty will play 5 regular-season video games on ESPN networks. The different video games are vs. Phoenix on Aug. 2 (ESPN, 1 p.m. ET), vs. Washington on Aug. 7 (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET), vs. Las Vegas on Aug. 9 (ESPN, three p.m. ET) and vs. Los Angeles on Aug. 11 (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET).

The Liberty will seem 10 occasions on CBS Sports Network and as soon as on CBS. Other video games will probably be streamed on WNBA League Pass, which is accessible by way of subscription.

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What form of stats ought to we anticipate from Ionescu this season?

We can get a tough estimate by translating her efficiency at Oregon to its WNBA equivalents, primarily based on how the stats of previous rookies have carried over. We additionally adjusted for Ionescu’s probably giant position on the Liberty’s rookie-heavy roster.

First, we have now to guess how a lot Ionescu will play. We went with 34 minutes per recreation, a tad lower than what No. 1 choose Breanna Stewart performed as a rookie in 2016 (34.7 MPG) and comparable to probably the most minutes we have seen a rookie guard common in current reminiscence (Odyssey Sims, who performed 34.Four MPG in 2014).

Based on that and New York’s tempo of play final season, the estimates for Ionescu are 16.7 PPG, APG and 4.9 RPG. Although which may not sound almost as dominant as Ionescu’s near-triple-double averages throughout her senior season at Oregon (17.5 PPG, 9.1 APG and eight.6 RPG), these projected numbers could be historic manufacturing for a WNBA rookie.

Per, APG would tie Sue Bird for probably the most by a WNBA rookie since Ticha Penicheiro averaged 7.5 in 1998. Only one different rookie (Temeka Johnson in 2005) has averaged assists. Of the three, solely Bird (14.Four PPG) averaged double-digit scoring. That means Ionescu might present the perfect mixture of scoring and playmaking ever by a WNBA rookie. — ESPN’s Kevin Pelton

What ought to we anticipate from the Liberty this season?

With a lot youth, the surface expectations for the Liberty, as Ionescu mentioned, aren’t excessive. Most mission them to end final within the 12-team league.

But Ionescu and the Liberty aren’t anxious about projections. They’re getting used to each other, new coach Walt Hopkins and a season within the “bubble,” which New York basic supervisor Jonathan Kolb thinks will assist them, because the campus-like atmosphere would possibly remind them a bit of faculty.

Ionescu sees numerous similarity to this point between how the Liberty will play and the way Oregon performed underneath coach Kelly Graves.

“Just being able to spread the floor and have shooters,” Ionescu mentioned. “Just being able play, read and react and not necessarily have to call a play every time down. That’s the freedom I was given at Oregon, and I think that’s what helped us be so successful.”

The different rookies for New York are guard Jazmine Jones (Louisville), ahead/guard Jocelyn Willoughby (Virginia) and forwards Joyner Holmes (Texas), Leaonna Odom (Duke), Kylee Shook (Louisville) and Megan Walker (UConn). Guard Layshia Clarendon, who at 29 is coming into her eighth season, is the oldest participant on the roster. Center Amanda Zahui B., who has 5 years’ expertise, heart Kiah Stokes (4) and guard Kia Nurse (two) are the opposite veterans.

Ionescu mentioned she took benefit of the previous few months to watch video of her teammates from their school or WNBA careers in order that as a degree guard, she would know a few of their tendencies. She is ready to shoulder among the management, regardless of being a rookie.

“One of the things that makes her so special is she’s not going to force her way into a leadership role,” Hopkins mentioned. “She’s gonna lead in the ways that she feels are appropriate. She’s not afraid to back off and allow a different voice on a given day. She does such a good job of both overt and covert leadership strategies.

“Having all that have at Oregon, being any individual who got here in proper off the bat, [she] discovered a method to lead. And because the years went on, she discovered new methods to lead and grew into totally different roles. I do not suppose that is going to be any totally different. She’s actually particular in that regard.”

During Ionescu’s freshman season at Oregon, the Ducks went 8-10 in the Pac-12 and were seeded No. 10 but jelled in the NCAA tournament and reached the Elite Eight. There were growing pains for the Ducks, but things turned out well. (They made the Elite Eight in 2018, too, and advanced to their first Final Four in 2019). That’s a good memory for Ionescu to draw on for her WNBA rookie season. She knows there will be ups and downs for the Liberty, too.

“There’s going to be video games the place issues aren’t going effectively, and you’re not going to win,” she said. “Having that understanding goes to assist me this yr.”

Should we anticipate to see Ionescu tally triple-doubles?

Ionescu had 26 triple-doubles at Oregon, more than the total of any other men’s or women’s college player. Her remaining one got here on Feb. 24 in a victory at Stanford after she spoke earlier within the day at a memorial service for Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles. That evening, Ionescu grew to become the first player to hit the 2,000-point/1,000-rebound/1,000-assist mark when she reached the rebounding part of the milestone.

Can Ionescu bring some of her triple-double magic to the WNBA? Rebounding will be the hardest part for the 5-foot-11 guard. She showed an amazing knack for that in college, but now she’ll be facing the best rebounders in the world.

In WNBA history, including the playoffs, there have been just nine triple-doubles, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Houston’s Sheryl Swoopes is the only player to record a triple-double twice: in 1999 and in 2005. The others, in chronological order: Utah’s Margo Dydek (2001), Los Angeles’ Lisa Leslie (2003), Detroit’s Deanna Nolan (2005), Seattle’s Temeka Johnson (2014), Los Angeles’ Candace Parker (2015), Chicago’s Courtney Vandersloot (2018) and Los Angeles’ Chelsea Gray (2019).

All of the triple-doubles were points/rebounds/assists except for those of Dydek and Leslie, which were points/rebounds/blocks.

Triple-doubles are extra widespread within the NBA, however the video games are 12 minutes longer, and the season is significantly longer, too. (The WNBA has performed a 34-game common season the previous a number of years and deliberate to go to 36 this yr earlier than the pandemic shortened the season to 22 video games.) There have been 94 triple-doubles within the NBA this season earlier than the pause in play in March, and there have been 127 final season. Three gamers — Luka Doncic, LeBron James and Nikola Jokic — have not less than 9 triple-doubles this season.

Although it is going to be difficult, Ionescu would possibly make the triple-double a bit of extra widespread within the WNBA.

Is Ionescu the favourite to win WNBA Rookie of the Year?

Ionescu gained simply about all of the awards she was eligible for this previous school season, together with nationwide and Pac-12 participant of the yr honors. Will she add the WNBA’s prime rookie trophy?

As talked about, she’ll have loads of rookie competitors on her crew. Plus, the No. 2 choose, Ionescu’s former Ducks teammate Satou Sabally of the Dallas Wings, may very well be a powerful contender, as might No. Four choose Chennedy Carter, who’s anticipated to get numerous enjoying time for the Atlanta Dream.

The WNBA started presenting rookie of the yr in 1998, its second season. Of the 22 winners, 12 have been No. 1 picks. There was a stretch from 2008 to 2016 wherein the highest choice gained the award eight of 9 years. But in two of the previous three — No. 4 Allisha Gray of Dallas in 2017 and No. 6 Napheesa Collier of the Minnesota Lynx in 2019 — that wasn’t the case.

Although it is a person award, how groups fare can play into voting. Another rookie serving to her crew go to the playoffs this yr might have an edge if the Liberty are within the basement.

This yr marked the primary time New York, one of many authentic eight WNBA franchises that launched in 1997, had the No. 1 draft choose.

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