The Sabrina Show
In her first WNBA game against the New York Liberty, Sabrina Ionescu showed immense poise and rapport with her teammates. Her excellent vision was showcased by finding several teammates for open looks throughout the game. Her most impressive play came when she put 2019 WNBA Defensive player of the year, Natasha Howard, in a perfect blender with a crossover at the top of the key. The rest of the Liberty looked flat-footed outside of two notable performances. Amanda Zahui B was impressive on the defensive end, and vet Layshia Clarendon showed solid guard play.
Sabrina Ionescu with a filthy crossover 😮
— SNY (@SNYtv) July 25, 2020
With 33 points, seven assists, and seven rebounds, Sabrina showed her full bag of tricks.
Ionescu was effective from all three levels, shooting an impressive 6-10 from 3 and 11/20 overall from the floor. Sabrina routinely twisted defenders into pretzels. Push forward and press her at the 3 point line? She can blow by you with a bunny at the top of the paint or float one over your best rim protector. Give her some cushion and force a jumper? She can pull up and make you pay from a distance or use the space to find a driving teammate in the lane. Ionescu is also not afraid to mix it up and sky for boards of the glass. Her skillset will surely ingratiate well with her veteran teammates.
Sabrina Ionescu scores, sprints back on D to cover the outlet, picks it off and touch passes it to start the break before going over backwards pic.twitter.com/jJanCeXvfF
— CJ Fogler #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) July 31, 2020
It will be intriguing to see how the Liberty approach this shortened season in the Bubble.
With seven rookies and a 24 game schedule, it is unlikely that we will see significant progress from the team this season. 2019 WNBA Draft 2nd overall pick Asia Durr is sitting out the season due to her bout with COVID-19. What are some keys to look forward to this year? You have to begin with the backcourt pairing of Kia Nurse and Ionescu. Can the pair can hold up defensively in the long term? Nurse is a staunch defender who should make up for some of Ionescu’s shortcomings on that end, but Ionescu will still have to prove her mettle.
Note: Ionescu exited her 7/31 matchup with the Atlanta Dream with an ankle injury. The severity is still unknown.
Dewanna Bonner is absolutely on fire in her first three games with the Connecticut Sun. While the team is off to a disappointing start, Bonner has put up a robust 27.3 ppg, 10.3 RPG, and four assists from the center position. After spending her first 11 years with the Phoenix Mercury, Bonner was traded for three first-round picks and took the reigns as the star veteran on a uniquely constructed Sun squad. The cabinets were left bare on the roster this season after Jonquel Jones, who led them to the 2019 Finals, elected to sit out the season due to coronavirus concerns. If they can climb out of the 0-3 hole and return to form as a contender for a league title, it will have to be on Bonner’s back.
DeWanna Bonner is a problem for every defense in the league.
— WSLAM (@wslam) July 31, 2020
Elena Della Donne’s absence left a hole in the reigning champions’ roster, but Myisha Hines-Allen has stepped up to meet the moment for the Mystics. Shooting 62% from the field overall and 40% from 3 may not be sustainable, but Hines-Allen has shown scoring prowess and ability that we had not previously seen in her young career. Aerial Powers has improved mightily as well, taking the leap from bench guard to a key offensive player for the 2020 Mystics. This entertaining team looked entirely different from where they were when they held up the trophy, but they look ready to defend their title.
Games to Watch
8/1: Los Angeles Sparks v. Seattle Storm 8 pm on CBS Sports Network
Two of the top teams in the West face-off with a ton of firepower. Sue Bird v. Candace Parker and much more. It should be a fun one.
8/4 Atlanta Dream v. Phoenix Mercury 7 pm on ESPN 2
Much like the Sabrina Ionescu v. Sue Bird matchup on the first weekend, a Chennedy Carter v. Diana Taurasi matchup should be indeed a blessing to watch. The young upstart rookie against the wily vet is always a fun combination, and this should be a good one to tune into early in the season.