Ionescu
USATSI

This year, for the first time in franchise history, the New York Liberty had the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft. As expected, they took University of Oregon standout Sabrina Ionescu, and officially embarked on a new era.

Along with Ionescu, the Liberty have six other rookies and a new head coach in Walt Hopkins. And after trading away franchise cornerstone Tina Charles in the offseason, they have no one over 30 years old. 

This project is going to take time, and the playoffs figure to be out of the question this season. But even so, there's plenty of excitement surrounding the Liberty, not least of all because they have a potential new superstar in Ionescu. 

Ahead of the 2020 season, here's everything you need to know about the Liberty.

Roster

PLAYERPOSITION

Layshia Clarendon

G

Joyner Holmes

F

Sabrina Ionescu

G

Jazmine Jones

G

Kia Nurse

G/F

Leaonna Odom

F

Kylee Shook

F

Kiah Stokes

C

Megan Walker

F

Jocelyn Willoughby

G/F

Amanda Zahui B.

C

Players sitting out: Asia Durr, Marine Johannes

Schedule

All times Eastern

DATETIMEOPPONENTTV

July 25

12 p.m.

Seattle Storm

ESPN

July 29

8 p.m.

Dallas Wings

CBS Sports Network

July 31

7 p.m.

Atlanta Dream

Aug. 2

1 p.m.

Phoenix Mercury

ESPN

Aug. 5

7 p.m.

Minnesota Lynx

CBS Sports Network

Aug. 7

7 p.m.

Washington Mystics

ESPN 2

Aug. 9

3 p.m.

Las Vegas Aces

ESPN

Aug. 11

9 p.m.

Los Angeles Sparks

ESPN 2

Aug. 13

6 p.m.

Indiana Fever

Aug. 15

6 p.m.

Minnesota Lynx

CBS Sports Network

Aug. 18

10 p.m.

Seattle Storm

Aug. 20

7 p.m.

Chicago Sky

CBS Sports Network

Aug. 22

4 p.m.

Connecticut Sun

CBS Sports Network

Aug. 25

7 p.m.

Chicago Sky

CBS Sports Network

Aug. 27

8 p.m.

Dallas Wings

CBS Sports Network

Aug. 29

4 p.m.

Las Vegas Aces

CBS

Sept. 1

7 p.m.

Connecticut Sun

CBS Sports Network

Sept. 3

7 p.m.

Atlanta Dream

Sept. 5

8 p.m.

Phoenix Mercury

Sept. 8

7 p.m.

Los Angeles Sparks

CBS Sports Network

Sept. 10

7 p.m.

Indiana Fever

CBS Sports Network

Sept. 12

4 p.m.

Washington Mystics

Key storylines:

The Ionescu era: After a few years of hedging between rebuilding and fighting for the playoffs, the Liberty officially entered a new era this offseason. Sabrina Ionescu is in as the first No. 1 overall pick in franchise history, and former cornerstone Tina Charles is gone after six seasons with her hometown club. 

Between the expectations for her on the floor and the push from the franchise's marketing department, this is one hundred percent Ionescu's team now. So much so that new coach Walt Hopkins was even implementing schemes from Oregon's playbook to make her feel more comfortable at the pro level. 

With her passing and 3-point shooting skills, and an ultra-competitive mindset, there's little doubt that she's going to be a great player in the league. What sort of immediate impact she'll be able to make, however, remains to be seen. A 22-game regular season inside a bubble environment, surrounded by half a dozen other rookies isn't exactly the easiest way to start a career. 

So long Tina Charles: Ahead of the 2014 Draft, the Liberty gave up a big haul to acquire Charles from the Sun, sending out Kelsey Bone and two future first-round picks, who would go on to become Alyssa Thomas and Elizabeth Williams. All three of those players have made All-Star Games since the deal, and yet it was still more than worth it for the Liberty.

Charles was fantastic upon arriving in New York and put together a dynamite run from 2015-2017, where she was one of the best and most consistent players in the league. Her MVP finishes in those three seasons were third, second and second, respectively, and the Liberty never won less than 21 games during that stretch. 

Though the Liberty never broke through to the Finals with her leading the way, Charles will go down as one of the best players in franchise history. 

COVID-19 impact: Every team has had to deal with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, but the Liberty have been particularly impacted. Second-year guard Asia Durr will be sitting out the season due to her ongoing battle with COVID-19, while first-round pick Megan Walker is still waiting to be cleared to join the team in the bubble after her positive test. Meanwhile, Marine Johannes never even made the trip over to the U.S., deciding to stay in France this summer due to the health situation stateside. 

First and foremost, you don't want to see anyone suffer from this illness. Durr, in particular, seems to have had a rough time, and with some of the long-term effects still unclear, you just hope it won't derail her career. From a basketball standpoint, this is a setback for the Liberty's long term plans. All three of them are expected to be key parts of their future and now will miss either all or most of Year One of this rebuilding plan. 

Youth movement: Any time a team goes all-in on a rebuild, it's a given that they're going to have a young team. However, that usually doesn't mean going into the season with seven rookies on the roster, which is what the Liberty will be doing. Ionescu is the most notable, obviously, but Walker, Jocelyn Willoughby and Jazmine Jones were also first-round picks. Beyond that, they have no players over 30, and Amanda Zahui B. and Layshia Clarendon are the only two with five or more years of experience in the league. 

All that youth could be helpful in terms of keeping up with a demanding schedule that will have teams playing almost every other day, but it also means players being thrown straight into the fire. Ionescu, Walker (when she returns) and Willoughby, in particular, are going to get plenty of experience. That should be good for them, long term, but might make this season long and frustrating at times.