The WNBA season tips off tomorrow and the New York Liberty’s top pick, the first overall pick, Sabrina Ionescu finally makes her long awaited WNBA pro debut. This season, there are 27 rookies, which is by far the most rookies in a WNBA season in recent years. Because of the sheer volume of rookies playing this year, we are going to file rookie reports on all 26 rookies. The rookie reports will come out every two weeks and will highlight which rookies played well, who had standout weeks, who did not play, etc.
In creating these rookie reports, we previewed the rookies who will be playing in Saturday’s Slate. Sunday’s slate of Rookie Debuts will be up by tomorrow. The Rookie Reports are written by Teylor Hines(@HipsterHoopz) Blake O’Tain(@wnbadaily) and myself. (Aneela Khan)
We will start with the first game of the season, the Seattle Storm vs the New York Liberty. There are 8 rookies featured in the game and New York has 7, the most of any team this year in the WNBA.
EZI MAGBEGOR (2019 WNBA DRAFT, 12th overall pick)
Ezi Magbegor is the only Seattle Storm rookie in this year’s team. However, she’s not a rookie by any means as she plays professionally in the WNBL for the Melbourne Boomers. She was drafted last year as 12th overall pick. She has basketball experience and is just 20 years old, which is younger than most if not all the 2020 WNBA draftees this year. She averaged 8.7 pts per game and 4.3 rebounds per game while playing in the WNBL. She is one of the intriguing rookies and will look to develop more behind Mercedes Russell and Natasha Howard. – Aneela Khan
NEW YORK LIBERTY
SABRINA IONESCU (1st overall pick)
Sabrina Ionescu is entering her WNBA pro debut with a lot of attention and publicity riding on her shoulders. As the top overall pick, she will be closely watched to see how she leads this very young New York Liberty team against stronger, veteran teams in the league. She will have to learn quickly and adjust to the pro game if New York wants to have any success this season. – Aneela Khan
MEGAN WALKER (9th overall pick)
Megan was one of the few Juniors that decided to declare for the WNBA Draft. Walker was an excellent shooter in college, and will bring some much needed shooting to the Liberty. – Blake O’Tain
JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY (10th overall pick)
Willoughby is another talented shooter selected by the Liberty, in the draft. Willoughby started every game of her collegiate career. She is a great scorer, rebounder, and defender. It will be exciting to see how quickly she can translate those skills, into the much tougher WNBA. – Blake O’Tain
JAZMINE JONES (12th overall pick)
Jones is another strong shooter to add to this youth filled lineup. In college Jones did not shoot a lot of threes, but that is something she can develop as she translates her game to the pros. For her height Jones is a very talented rebounder. – Blake O’Tain
KYLEE SHOOK (13th overall pick)
Shook is a post drafted high in the second round with the opportunity in New York to get decent minutes. The Liberty’s young roster will allow the reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year to show her ability to track down shots and knock the three. With a steady point guard at the helm, she could thrive early on pick and pop situations. – Teylor Hines
LEAONNA ODOM (15th overall pick)
Odom is a forward from Duke who was drafted in the second round. In New York, she will get the opportunity to prove herself, although it may be in a bench role. She can play multiple positions which should help her get some playing time. She may not be asked to do much in her rookie season, but she could really help elevate the Liberty’s bench. – Aneela Khan
JOYNER HOLMES (19th overall pick)
Holmes is a late addition to the Liberty team. She was selected by the Seattle Storm in the second round of the WNBA Draft, she was later released. Joyner brings a strong defensive presence to this young Liberty team. Her other strengths include inside scoring, and rebounding. – Blake O’Tain
Next up, is the Los Angeles Sparks vs the Phoenix Mercury. With such veteran led teams, only one rookie is featured in it.
LOS ANGELES SPARKS
T’EA COOPER (18th overall pick)
Cooper is a classic combo guard that was drafted and waived by The Phoenix Mercury due to roster cuts. This led to her signing with the Sparks where she’ll be looked at to shoot, shoot, and shoot again with Toliver out. Cooper’s pressure on the defensive side of the ball may also allow her to get more minutes in a scattered Derek Fisher rotation. Her path to making a roster was unorthodox, but her play could cement her place in the league for years to come. – Teylor Hines
Finally, we have the last matchup of the day, the Indiana Fever vs the defending WNBA champions, the Washington Mystics. There are 4 rookies featured in this matchup.
JULIE ALLEMAND (2016 WNBA Draft, 33rd overall pick)
Julie is a skilled passer, with excellent vision, and a good 3 point shooter. This will be Allemand’s first WNBA game, however she has already played with and against some highly skilled WNBA players. With Erica Wheeler out due to COVID-19 Allemand should see a good amount of playing time in the season opener on Saturday. Allemand will face her Belgium national team mate Emma Messamen, in the first game of Allemand’s WNBA career. – Blake O’Tain
LAUREN COX (3rd overall pick)**
Not available to play right away due to COVID 19 protocols and probably will not play in the season opener, Cox is an outstanding all-around player. She stands 6’4 but is a tremendous defender, a great shooter, and is an exceptional passer for her size. The Fever finished near the bottom as a team defensively last season. Cox will definitely help improve their defensive rating, for years to come. – Blake O’Tain
KATHLEEN DOYLE (14th overall pick)
Doyle is the definition of a floor general. She is a do-it-all kind of point guard, she is a great passer, but also is a very strong shooter. With Erica Wheeler not in the lineup due to COVID-19, look for Doyle to get lots of minutes in her first WNBA game. – Blake O’Tain
KIARA LESLIE (2019 WNBA Draft, 10th overall pick
Kiara Leslie’s start to her WNBA career was put to a halt due to injury after being drafted 10th by the Mystics in 2019. This year with the reigning champ’s roster looking a little different and coaches expecting to use their benches more, she’ll get the chance to show us what was missed. Leslie is a wing player that can score at all three levels, so she could be viable scoring option for Washington’s second unit. – Teylor Hains