The New York Liberty have the No. 1 pick in the 2020 WNBA draft after Tuesday night’s lottery and get the chance to add Sabrina Ionescu, the top prospect of the class after she decided to return to Oregon for her senior year.
The Liberty had a 44.2 percent chance at the top pick. It is the first time New York will pick first. The lottery includes the four teams that don’t make the postseason and weights them based on the records of the previous two seasons. New York finished 2019 at 10-24 overall and closed the 2018 season at 7-24, missing out on the top pick.
The Dallas Wings (12-24) have the No. 2 pick. Their choice will join 2019 selection and rookie sensation Arike Ogumbowale.
New York will have the chance to select likely No. 1 pick Sabrina Ionescu out of Oregon. Ionescu, the reigning Wade Trophy and Wooden Award winner, is the NCAA leader in triple-doubles (on both the men’s and women’s sides). She averaged 19.2 points last season on 44 percent shooting, including 42 from 3-point range. She averaged 4.7 rebounds and 8.2 assists.
“We want to add high quality, high caliber individuals to our family. That’s what we’re looking to do,” Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb said on the ESPN broadcast without naming anyone. “We prioritize efficiency and a passion for winning. That player has to have a craving for the ball, a craving to win games and that’s who we’re looking to ad to our nucleus that we’re building with.”
Ionescu was eligible to enter the 2019 draft, but chose to stay in Oregon and hopefully take the Ducks to a national title. In July she led the United States’ 3x3 basketball team to gold at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru. The “Duskies” included Oregon teammate Ruthy Hebard — a post player near the top of the draft prospect list — and UConn sophomores Christyn Williams and Olivia Nelson-Ododa.
The Liberty got a new owner this year in Joseph Tsai and could possibly move out to Brooklyn. The team’s attendance dropped in recent years after previous ownership moved them from Madison Square Garden out to a far smaller arena in Westchester that holds a third of their average attendance.
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