Hi, and welcome to the first of a monthly series leading up to the 2020 WNBA Draft as we look at potential draft options for the New York Liberty.
Now, this series isn’t about what the team does with the first overall pick. We all know that barring some huge shakeup, Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu is going to be that first pick and projects to be the point guard of the future for the Liberty.
But the team also has the first pick of the second round, and while WNBA second rounders tend to be a mixed bag when it comes to having a quick impact in the league, the Liberty have enough roster holes to fill that they should definitely be thinking about that 13th overall pick being a chance to pick up a potentially valuable contributor.
So, let’s look at a few options for that pick, how those players have looked so far, and what they could bring to New York.
Joyner Holmes – F – Texas
Last year, the Liberty started to put some interesting things together with front court players like Amanda Zahui B and Rebecca Allen who could play the four or the five and stretch the defense out.
Holmes isn’t necessarily that yet as a shooter, as she’s yet to really develop a three-point shot, but the Texas Longhorns senior does have some guard-like abilities with the ball in her hand and can put it on the floor and get to the basket while also working as a post-up option.
Holmes most used playtypes this year are post ups and transition, and she’s scored pretty efficiently in transition situations. She’s a good passing big who hits the offensive glass hard and creates second chances for her team.
The Liberty had that last year with Reshanda Gray, who gave the team a great effort on the offensive glass. Holmes could be Gray with a little more versatility away from the basket if the Liberty don’t bring Gray back next season.
Borislava Hristova – F – Washington
Hristova is three inches shorter than Holmes and while she’s fine on the defensive glass, she’s not shown a knack for offensive rebounding.
But Hristova projects more as an offensive scoring threat than Holmes does. Her 19.3 points per game put her 29th in the country right now and she’s very capable as a ball-handler.
In fact, Hristova’s most used playtype this year is as a pick-and-roll ball handler, and she’s scoring in the 79th percentile on those possessions. She’s also been used more as a spot up shooter and could give the Liberty another option out on the mid-range, though Hristova’s three-point shooting has been getting progressively less efficient every year, so it’s hard to get a great read on her long term upside on the perimeter.
But there are a lot of encouraging signs with Hristova. Shoots well on a high usage rate. Doesn’t foul too much. Has the nickname “Bobi Buckets,” so it’d be a lot of fun to get to tweet “BOBI BUCKETS” during Liberty games.
Japreece Dean – PG – UCLA
Sure, the Liberty will almost certainly draft a point guard with their first pick, but this is a huge position of need for this team, as it’s the really the one spot on this team where you can’t see any of last year’s players being irreplaceable moving forward.
Dean isn’t super efficient as a scorer, but her ability to run an offense have continued to improve since she transferred to UCLA from Texas Tech. This year, she’s 10th in the country in assists per game at 6.4, and she’s also seen a marked increase in her ability to swipe some steals away.
In many ways, Dean makes me think of her former UCLA teammate Jordin Canada — guards who excel in transition and succeed despite not being huge threats out on the perimeter, though Dean has made some big threes:
Dean takes 4.3 threes per game and has struggled to connect on them, but she shot a lot better last year. I’m not sure what her role on a WNBA team would be, but she could fill a combo guard role for this team if she’s able to find her shooting stroke again.