The WNBA has kicked off its 25th season in a strong fashion. Fresh faces have given the league a lot of optimism going forward, and the renaissance in New York is one of the brightest stories yet.
The S.I. Effect
The New York Liberty have started fast this season, and they’ve already matched last season’s total. After posting a troubling 2-20 record, they overhauled last year’s roster, and now New York currently sits atop the Eastern Conference with a 5-1 record. The Brooklyn Nets aren’t the only stars that play in the Barclay’s, as Sabrina Ionescu is embarking on an impressive sophomore surge, and Betnijah Laney is fourth in the league in scoring (22.7).
The former AP Player of the Year had her rookie season shortened by injury, but she’s come back in even stronger this season. Ionescu sank a game-winning three and recorded her first professional triple-double during the opening week of the season, setting the pace for what should be a groundbreaking season. Ionescu was rewarded by her first of many WNBA Player of the Week awards after leading the Liberty to a 4-1 start. New York signed Laney after she brought in the WNBA’s Most Improved Player last year with the Atlanta Dream and these two form what looks to become the next power in the Eastern Conference.
Seattle Eyeing a Repeat
The Seattle Storm have picked up right where they left off. The defending WNBA champions have won four of their first five games. After splitting this opening series with the Las Vegas Aces, Seattle picked up two road wins and gave the Eastern Conference leading Connecticut Sun their first loss of the season on Tuesday.
Former WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart has been stellar so far, averaging a career-high 24.1 points per game, to go along with 10.8 rebounds per game. 11-time All-Star Sue Bird and former Rookie of the Year Jewell Lloyd form arguably the best backcourt in the league. Bird hasn’t missed a step in her 18th season, and her late-game heroics were big in the win over Connecticut. Loyd, like Stewart, is averaging career highs across the board with 21.2 ppg and 5.4 rpg. The Storm are looking to win their third WNBA Championship in four seasons, and they’ve got the most formidable trio in the league.
WNBA League News
- The Connecticut Sun are enjoying a resurgence themselves, starting 5-1 this season with their lone loss to Seattle.
- Despite being swept in the WNBA Finals, the Las Vegas Aces remain a huge threat with the trio of A’ja Wilson, Liz Cambage, and Jackie Young back in play. New addition Chelsey Gray has slid into the backcourt nicely, and former Wooden Award winner Kelsey Plum will be back in the lineup within a few weeks, as she still recovers from last year’s Achilles injury.
- Former league MVPs Diana Taurasi and Candace Parker have been affected by the injury bug early. The Phoenix Mercury are off to an unexpected 2-3 start, and Taurasi’s injury won’t help by any means. She’s slated to miss a month, and Phoenix will need a lot from former All-Stars Britney Griner and Skylar Diggins in her absence.
Despite a favorable schedule over the next few weeks, the Chicago Dream would love to get their new centerpiece, Candace Parker, back sooner rather than later. The former WNBA Defensive Player of the Year looked impressive in her debut, scoring 16 points and grabbing 8 boards.
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