First week in the books for the 2021 season
Liberty off to a hot start
We are a week into the WNBA season, which means everyone gets to overreact to small sample sizes. Yes, what Sabrina Ionescu and the New York Liberty are doing is incredible and unprecedented. However, let’s not jump to fourth-in-the-power-rankings conclusions after beating the Indiana Fever twice and the Napheesa Collier-less Minnesota Lynx.
That being said, what Ionescu is doing on the court is far more important for the WNBA as a whole than just the Liberty’s record. Both pre- and post-triple double, the impact of her young stardom is spreading through social media as fast as almost any WNBA news I have seen in recent memory. Friends who have not once expressed interest in the W are reaching out about learning more about the league.
The scariest part about her game is that she’s still so raw. Watching Tuesday night’s game, there were many instances were Ionescu made the wrong play, specifically miscommunication with teammates on kick out passes. This will surely improve as the season continues, and eventually I will start entertaining New York top 5 suggestions if this play keeps upnatisha .
And no, I do not what to discount the rest of the Liberty roster. Betnijah Laney is playing offense like she is about to become a back-to-back Most Improved Player, if that is even allowed. The team as a whole is shooting lights out, with Sami Whitcomb and even Kylee Shook hitting from deep on a regular basis. The Liberty are still rebuilding, so let’s appreciate their great start while still respecting the rebuild.
Indiana Fever vs. Connecticut Sun
Last night’s contest was the return from overseas play for Sun point guard Jasmine Thomas, and as happy as Connecticut fans are to have her back, we have gotten to see the emergence of Natisha Hiedeman as an off-the-bench guard scoring option.
The most impressive part of Hiedeman’s game is how her defense translates to transition baskets.
Her hustle both on the ball and off of it on defense breathes life into the Connecticut Sun defense, who have smothered their opponents as a whole, forcing terrible shots both inside and on the perimeter.
Another catalyst of this intense defensive suffocation is veteran Briann January. Even though box scores statistics do not show her immediate impact, January has been the primary point defender, completely preventing the initiation of opposing offenses. January went down with an apparent leg injury against the Fever, and hopefully she avoided any serious health issues.
For Indiana, there is still a lot to learn. The first step in my opinion is relying more heavily on their stars. Kelsey Mitchell only took eight shots in the game, which does not give her ample opportunity to showcase her skills. The Fever offense has also been too reliant on isolation. They only had 14 assists in the match up, and for a team that is generally regarded as the worst in the league, working together will be imperative for future success.
In tonight’s game, the Seattle Storm take on the Minnesota Lynx, who are both coming off of losses. The Storm split their opening series with the Las Vegas Aces, while the Lynx are 0-2 for the first time in Cheryl Reeve’s Minnesota career. Both teams are led by veteran players who know that there is plenty of time left in the season, so there is no need to fret yet.