Here’s something to make a Knicks fan weep: In January, the New York Liberty threw off the yoke of James Dolan. Tuesday evening, for the first time in franchise history, they secured the first pick in the 2020 WNBA draft.
The Liberty entered the lottery with a 44.2 percent chance at the top pick, thanks to their 17-51 record over the past two seasons. WNBA lottery odds are based on a team’s two-season aggregate record, which is to say the Liberty had to tank twice as hard for half as much.
Their number-one pick will almost certainly be Oregon’s dazzling star point guard Sabrina Ionescu, who considered entering the 2019 draft this April but chose to return to Oregon for her senior year instead.
Tuesday’s news is a morale boost for a franchise in desperate need of one (they’re also in desperate need of a point guard). Before selling the team, Dolan moved the Liberty from Madison Square Garden—where the team regularly drew crowds of 10,000—to the small, wholly depressing Westchester County Center, which feels better-suited to host community theater productions of Seussical the Musical and seats only 5,000.
The team’s new owner, soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets majority owner Joe Tsai, seems, in a massive upgrade, not needlessly cruel and boneheaded. He’s also said he’s interested in moving the Liberty full-time to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, an arena far more worthy of Ionescu’s talent.