Joyner Holmes
Joyner Holmes

Happy Birthday, Joyner Holmes! Three Ways She Became a 2020 Regular for the New York Liberty.

Joyner Holmes turns 23 on Monday. NR looks back on how she went from being a post-draft trade piece to making New York Liberty history.

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It’s often hard for second-round picks to make an impact in the WNBA, a league that affords just 144 roster spots to a dozen teams. The 2020 campaign, of course, was far different from any basketball season in recent memory…especially in New York, where the local Liberty dressed seven rookies throughout the bubbled season in Bradenton, Florida.

Joyner Holmes, one of those neophytes, took full advantage of the unusual situation. NR looks back on how Holmes, who turns 23 on Monday, made the most of her New York opportunity…

Holmes Learned WNBA Perseverance Early

The WNBA’s emotional yet necessary cutdowns prior to the bubble’s commencement might’ve ended some professional careers before they could ever truly begin. That might’ve been the case for Holmes, as the Texas alumna and Dallas native was originally chosen 19th overall by Seattle. Instead, Holmes was picked up by the Liberty, who were reeling from the (understandable) opt-outs of several veteran contributors. She would go on to partake in 19 games in seafoam and black, efforts that would earn her a training camp contract for the 2021 season.

“After I got waived, I went maybe three weeks working out, praying. I think the Liberty called a week-and-a-half before Bradenton,” Holmes said, recalling her time before the call to represent the metropolitan area. “As soon as New York reached out, I knew God would send me my opportunity and I’d run with it… I’m enjoying and I’m happy my opportunity came by.”

She Impressed the Baby Vets

It was no surprise that Holmes bonded quickly with her fellow first-years, though she admitted that Jazmine Jones “isn’t the best TikToker.” But she left a mark on the rare veterans she had to work with as well.

“She’s a great player. I think she stepped up to the challenge (this season),” said Kiah Stokes, Holmes’ spades opponent and future camp teammate. “She’s an instant spark off the bench…I think you guys saw just the tip of what she can do.”

Recently departed Amanda Zahui B. called Holmes “silly” based on their time in the bubble, but she praised the way her interior understudy conducted herself on the court.

“She’s really nice. We try to push her out of her shell to be more aggressive,” Zahui B. said. “It’s starting to click that she can be great in this league and it’s a beautiful thing to witness…she is talking so much and I am so proud of that.”

Joyner Holmes owns a piece of Liberty history

Holmes went down in Liberty history during a September tilt against Phoenix, tying a team rookie record held for over 16 years and one unsurpassed by names like Rebecca Lobo, Teresa Weatherspoon, and Kym Hampton. Her 13 rebounds were the most in a single game by a first-year player alongside DeTrina White back in May 2004. Holmes matched that tally with 13 points. Each mark set career-highs.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags