The New York Liberty made one of the biggest moves early in free agency back in February when long time Indiana Fever guard Shavonte Zellous signed a deal to join up with the Liberty, coming off an appearance in the WNBA Finals.
The decision was interesting for Zellous, who was originally drafted by Bill Laimbeer in Detroit in 2009, but she was coached by Laimbeer for just a short time as he stepped down during her rookie campaign. Katie Smith was also a member of that Detroit Shock team and clearly Laimbeer and Smith made quite the impression, as that experience greatly contributed to Zellous’ desire to become a member of the Libs.
From New York’s perspective, adding Zellous filled many needs. A player that has made the postseason during every one of her WNBA seasons, including winning the championship in 2012, Zellous added toughness and experience to a balanced Liberty squad. She was also an individual that had tremendous personal attributes, invested in the community, and sure to gel with her teammates on the court, particularly on the defensive end where under Laimbeer New York has made tremendous strides and players constantly hold one another accountable.
Early in the season it was clear that coming off the bench was the role Zellous would have most nights, and she displayed those championship characteristics, taking on a leadership role for a second unit that starting calling itself the ‘Bench Mob.’
Zellous finished the season averaging 8.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. She scored in double figures 13 times, including a season-high 16 points in a victory at Phoenix on July 1. The 2.2 dimes per contest ranked 38th in the WNBA, and were the second-high per game tally of her career, trailing just 2.5 during the 2010 season.
June 26 vs. Phoenix
Scored 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting and also dished out a season high 6 assists with a steal and made 3-pointer
July 1 @ Phoenix
Netted a season-high 16 points on 6-of-14 shooting with a couple of assists in 27 minutes of action
July 20 @ Washington
Contributed to the big game for the Liberty bench, finishing with 14 points (5-9 FG), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal
TAKING THE CHARITY
Shavonte Zellous was one of the Liberty’s best free throw shooters throughout the 2016 season, finishing the year hitting .851 percent of her shots at the stripe, which led New York and ranked 21st in the WNBA. She managed to get to the line 121 times on the year, trailing just Tina Charles for the Liberty, and hit 102 free throws, the 2nd most in her career (155 in 2009).
FIVE IN A ROW
Shavonte Zellous really found her stride offensively early in the season, as she scored in double figures in five straight games for the Liberty. Starting with a 12-point performance against Minnesota on May 31, Zellous averaged 12.0 ppg over that stretch, highlighted by a 13-point performances in the first meeting with her former team, Indiana, on June 3.