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How Breanna Stewart’s transfer impacts the Liberty, Storm and the WNBA

Feb 1, 2023Kevin PeltonESPN Senior Writer Close Co-author, Pro Basketball Prospectus series Formerly a consultant with the Indiana Pacers Developed WARP rating and SCHOENE systemAre the New York Liberty the 2023 WNBA title favorites now that Breanna Stewart plans to sign with the team? Stewart announced the move Wednesday on Twitter.Having already added an MVP

How Breanna Stewart’s transfer impacts the Liberty, Storm and the WNBA

Feb 1, 2023

  • Kevin PeltonESPN Senior Author


    • Co-author, Professional Basketball Prospectus collection
    • Previously a guide with the Indiana Pacers
    • Developed WARP ranking and SCHOENE system

Are the New York Liberty the 2023 WNBA title favorites now that Breanna Stewart plans to signal with the group? Stewart announced the move Wednesday on Twitter.

Having already added an MVP this offseason by buying and selling for Jonquel Jones, the Liberty added a second by way of free company on Tuesday, touchdown two-time WNBA Finals MVP Stewart. With second-team choose Sabrina Ionescu already on the roster, New York now boasts 30% of final 12 months’s All-WNBA picks — matching the Las Vegas Aces‘ whole — and won’t be executed including star gamers simply but.

Let’s take a better take a look at how the Liberty challenge with their new star-studded frontcourt, significantly compared to the Aces after the defending champions loaded up with the addition of Candace Parker.

Moreover, let’s take into account what’s subsequent for the Seattle Storm after Stewart’s departure. With All-Star guard Jewell Loyd nonetheless in Seattle, rebuilding does not appear to be within the playing cards, barring a commerce. However the Storm may have a really totally different look in 2023 after the departure of Stewart and retirement of legendary level guard Sue Chook.

How do Stewart and Jones match collectively?

It is protected to say that including two former MVPs, each of their prime, throughout the identical offseason is unprecedented in WNBA historical past. In reality, earlier than this 12 months, simply two former MVPs had ever modified groups previous to age 30: Tina Charles when she was traded to the Liberty in 2014 and Elena Delle Donne upon her commerce to the Washington Mystics in 2017.

Again in 2008, Seattle added a pair of former MVPs in Yolanda Griffith and Sheryl Swoopes. Nevertheless, Griffith was 38 when she joined the Storm and Swoopes was quickly to be 37. At that stage of their careers, each have been position gamers, not anchor items like Jones and Stewart.

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Undoubtedly, teaming up would require some sacrifice for Jones and Stewart — most likely extra so Stewart since Jones already noticed her utilization drop after it reached a career-high 27% throughout her MVP marketing campaign. Nonetheless, final season Jones completed 24% of the Connecticut Sun‘s performs with a shot, journey to the free throw line or turnover. Stewart was at 29% in Seattle.

A few of these alternatives in New York will come from changing Natasha Howard, who had a 26% utilization charge and was traded to the Dallas Wings as a part of the Jones deal. However the Liberty’s different starter up entrance was middle Stefanie Dolson, who will possible head to the bench, and Dolson’s utilization charge was a modest 17%. That was a 43% mixed share of the offense for final 12 months’s New York frontcourt starters, as in comparison with 53% for Jones and Stewart with their former groups.

As long as Jones and Stewart are snug with fewer touches and pictures, with Ionescu certainly dialing again her offense as nicely, the match ought to work nicely. Jones and Stewart are each able to stepping away from the basket and every has sufficient gravity as an outdoor shooter (Stewart is a profession 37% 3-point shooter, whereas Jones has hit 38% on decrease quantity) to area the ground whereas the opposite posts up or runs pick-and-roll with Ionescu.

On the different finish, Jones and Stewart have been amongst seven gamers to obtain votes for Defensive Participant of the 12 months in 2022, with Stewart making the All-Defensive first group and Jones on the second group. Each gamers have guarded a number of frontcourt spots over the course of their careers, giving Liberty coach Sandy Brondello flexibility in learn how to deploy them for optimum profit.

Proper now, I might hold the Aces as WNBA championship favorites as a result of it needs to be simpler for them to combine Parker than it can for New York to get snug with a number of new starters. Nonetheless, the terrifying chance for the remainder of the league is the Liberty aren’t completed including to the roster.

May New York add one other All-Star?

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported earlier this month that Courtney Vandersloot‘s free company would be a factor in Stewart’s decision. The Liberty have been amongst 4 groups Vandersloot was anticipated to satisfy with earlier than making her personal selection. May New York nonetheless add Vandersloot, too?

Sure, significantly if Stewart and Vandersloot are prepared to take much less cash than their most potential salaries. If Stewart indicators for the utmost $202,154 for gamers altering groups moreover a sign-and-trade, that would go away the Liberty about $160,000 to supply Vandersloot, per salary data from

By waiving reserves Michaela Onyenwere and DiDi Richards, New York may get that provide above $180,000, within the ballpark of what Vandersloot made final season with the Chicago Sky ($195,000). To supply greater than that, New York must commerce a participant with a protected contract.

One wild card for the Liberty’s 2023 roster: The group has a pair of key worldwide gamers — guard Marine Johannes and middle Han Xu — who’re reserved, which means they’ll negotiate solely with New York. If these gamers re-sign for the minimal wage, it is going to be a lot simpler for the Liberty to fill out the roster with Stewart and one other extremely paid free agent.

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From a match standpoint, Vandersloot would make sense in New York given the success Ionescu loved after the Liberty signed level guard Crystal Dangerfield midseason and moved Dangerfield into the beginning lineup. Free of main distribution obligations, Ionescu emerged as a nightly triple-double risk. Including Vandersloot would make New York my favourite to win the primary title in franchise historical past.

What’s subsequent for the Storm



Stewart on transfer to Liberty: ‘I wish to proceed to be nice’

Breanna Stewart explains the mindset behind her resolution to play with the New York Liberty.

We noticed a Seattle group with out Chook and Stewart attain the playoffs in 2019, when each missed the season because of damage. The Storm even gained a playoff sport earlier than being eradicated within the second spherical by the Los Angeles Sparks.

In addition to holdovers Loyd and middle Mercedes Russell, that group additionally featured Howard, who gained Defensive Participant of the 12 months and earned All-WNBA first group honors. If Seattle is to copy its 2019 success, an analogous breakthrough will most likely be required from fourth-year submit Ezi Magbegor, like Han and Johannes a reserved participant this offseason.

As a beginning middle by the All-Star break final season, Magbegor appeared to be on that sort of trajectory. She averaged 11.3 PPG and 6.5 RPG as a starter whereas main the league with 2.3 BPG. Magbegor struggled to make the identical influence after Charles changed her within the beginning lineup, seeing her per-minute averages fall along with much less taking part in time.

There’s a lot work to be executed for the Storm, who’ve simply Loyd and Russell beneath contract but additionally possess probably the most cap area within the WNBA. Particularly, Seattle must discover a alternative for Chook at level guard. Vandersloot, a local of the Seattle space, may nonetheless be within the combine there. In any other case, the Storm are possible taking a look at a drop-off at level guard to restricted free brokers Natisha Hiedeman and Marina Mabrey or unrestricted possibility Moriah Jefferson.

With so many open roster spots, it is powerful to say how aggressive Seattle will be with out Stewart. For now, Loyd’s presence, Magbegor’s improvement and the Storm’s skill to land veteran free brokers prior to now recommend the group nonetheless needs to be within the combine for the playoffs.

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