(photo credit: Twitter/nyliberty)
The New York Liberty have been one of the most impressive teams in the W thus far this season. Currently, they sit second in the Eastern Conference, trailing only the powerhouse Connecticut Sun. One of the key reasons for the team’s early success is the versatility of their offense. They’re fifth in the league in points per game, averaging 83.9 ppg. They’re second in assists, just behind the defending champion Seattle Storm. The Liberty have a deep roster that can create all types of shots. Let’s go through some of the keys to this dangerous and versatile offense.
Betnijah Laney and Consistency
Laney made history with eight consecutive games where she posted at least 20 points per game, the second-longest streak in WNBA history. The former MIP took her game to another level this season, finding different ways to score on offense. When she isn’t scoring 48.92% from the field, she’s averaging 4.89 assists per game. Betnijah Laney can work the floor, often commanding various actions.
Here, you can see Laney finding ways to get open and drill the three. However, there are times when her shot isn’t falling or she needs to challenge the perimeter defense. No problem for Laney, who can muscle her way inside.
Laney’s arguably been one of the best signings of the offseason. Her name is being discussed in MVP conversations, and she’s leading the Liberty this season. For a more in-depth analysis of her efficiency, check out this article by Eric Nemchock here.
Sabrina Ionescu and Assisting Her Teammates
It took Sabrina Ionescu six career WNBA games to record her first triple-double in the professional league and she is the youngest to do it. Although her shooting has fluctuated a bit when faced with some pressure from other teams, the assists have stayed consistent. Ionescu is averaging 6.4 assists per game, with some spectacular dishes so far.
Sabrina’s vision is something that has been highly praised, as she often finds her teammates in the right spots. As a young player, she’s still finding the balance between passing and shooting.
Asked Ionescu about those brilliant passes you see in each game: pic.twitter.com/j3uSyknuTD— Crina Mustafa (@crinamm) May 16, 2021
Something to note is that getting her teammates involved is crucial, especially when her shots aren’t falling. The good thing about this Liberty team is that there are so many elite shooters that Sabrina’s ability to create plays for others is a great fit in the versatile offense.
Sami Whitcomb + Bec Allen and the Triple Threat
So far, we’ve talked about two leaders that the offence runs through. Sami Whitcomb and Bec Allen are prime examples of how this team thrives when they share the ball. Whitcomb is one of the veterans on this team, coming off of a championship win with the Seattle Storm, and bringing an experienced presence to the Liberty. Sami can spot up and shoot the three, often at crucial times.
For a laugh: check out DiDi’s reaction on the bench after that Sami three.
To talk about Bec Allen, we must include her last two games. It seems like the Australian Olympian is finally getting comfortable with the system, putting up 30 points total over these last two games. Against the Aces, Allen came in during the second quarter and scored 14 straight points, giving the Liberty a much needed boost until the Aces eventually took care of the game.
After the game, Sami Whitcomb said that they weren’t finding her enough, and capitalizing on Allen’s rhythm is going to be key heading into a tough stretch of games. Bec Allen provides a good spark off the bench and if the offense can center around her when she’s on the floor, that would help with efficiency on their end.
Honorable mentions: Michaela Onyenwere (ROY Candidate), Natasha Howard (a threat in the pick and roll before her injury), Neah Odom (returning from injury, can provide a good spark off the bench).
I wasn’t lying when I said the Liberty had shooters. Currently, they’re first in the league in % of points that are three-pointers (which is 42.0%, in case anyone was wondering). They’ve also converted the second-most three-pointers in a game, which is 14. Some fun stats for a fun team. As the season continues, it will be interesting to see how their offense develops and finds a winning formula.
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For more thoughts and opinions from Crina, check out her Twitter.