The offseason is coming to an end and New York Liberty Training Camp is right around the corner! With a big offseason trade and an exciting group of new players coming to camp, there are a lot of questions for the Liberty heading into the start of the 2017 campaign. New York is coming off consecutive WNBA Playoffs berths, but has fallen short of its quest to return to the WNBA finals, the goal that all coaches and players will say is at the forefront of their preparations for a new year.
Here are a few of the biggest things to look for with Training Camp tipping off Sunday at MSG Training Center:
Can she be even better?
Tina Charles posted an historic 2016 campaign, becoming just the 3rd player in WNBA history to lead the league in scoring and rebounding. She averaged 21.5 ppg and 9.9 rpg, and finished 2nd in the league MVP voting.
After an abbreviated season abroad in China, Charles was able to return home and rest for the 1st time after a hectic 2016 that included winning gold with Team USA in Rio. Over the past several months she has been spending a lot of time in the gym training, so the question for her is, what is in store for a much anticipated encore in 2017? Stay tuned.
The Liberty executed a blockbuster trade just before the start of free agency, acquiring center Kia Vaughn and guard Bria Hartley from the Washington Mystics, while center Carolyn Swords was sent to the Seattle Storm.
The 2-for-1 brings in two key pieces for a Liberty team that bolsters its front court and back court. Vaughn, a native of the Bronx who spent her 1st 4 WNBA seasons in New York, is a gifted offensive player and physical defender, while Hartley is a sharp shooting playmaker, and also a native of NY, hailing from Long Island.
Up For Grabs
There have been many big changes to the Liberty lineup since the team last took the court, and that means a lot of competition in terms of making the final roster and for playing time. Carolyn Swords was the only Liberty player to start all 34 games last season, leaving 34 starts available at the center position from the outset.
With Swin Cash retiring and Tanisha Wright taking time off to rest, there is more likelihood of changes to the starting lineup, they combined to start 51 games last season. Epiphanny Prince returns healthy after missing much of the 2016 season to recover from a torn ACL. Rebecca Allen started 6 games last season, and is coming off a strong European campaign that saw her shoot over 45 percent from 3-point range.
While the Liberty was busy during the offseason, the team’s biggest additions may be the return of two stars that missed significant portions of last season due to injury. Prince and Kiah Stokes were almost never on the court at the same time, Prince made her debut on Aug. 26 at San Antonio, the same game Stokes suffered a hip injury that cost her the remainder of the regular season.
Neither was a full strength when the WNBA playoffs tipped off against Phoenix, and both make huge contributions for New York on both ends of the floor. Seeing Prince and Stokes back healthy will be an exciting development to watch.