New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu needed less than 30 seconds to make history on Saturday night. With an assist to Crystal Dangerfield on the team's opening possession, Ionescu became the first WNBA player to record 500 points, 200 rebounds and 200 assists in a single season.
Ionescu finished the game with 20 points, five rebounds and five assists, but it wasn't enough as the Liberty fell to the Phoenix Mercury, 76-62, in a game that had huge playoff implications. With the win, the Mercury took the season series and tiebreaker between the two clubs, and jumped the Liberty to move back into the eighth and final playoff spot. The Mercury now control their own destiny as they look to extend their playoff streak to 10 seasons.
The Liberty, meanwhile, remain in the hunt despite this setback. They are half a game behind the Mercury, a game behind the seventh-place Dream and three games behind the sixth-place Wings. With two games left against both the Dream and Wings, they will have a chance to get back in the playoff picture.
Still, it was a special night for Ionescu. After taking the ball from Stefanie Dolson, Ionescu dribbled towards the middle of the floor and drew the attention of multiple Phoenix Mercury defenders. She then made the easy pass to Dangerfield who was left wide open on the wing and buried the 3-pointer.
This is an incredible accomplishment by Ionescu, and becomes even more impressive when you realize how rare it has been for anyone to even be close to these numbers. Only two players -- Cappie Pondexter and Candace Parker -- have reached 500 points, 150 rebounds and 150 assists in a season, per Across the Timeline. If you lower the threshold to 400 points, 150 rebounds and 150 assists, the list still only expands to Lindsay Whalen and Alyssa Thomas.
Ionescu's ability to impact the game in so many different areas is unique. Coming into Saturday night's game, she was putting up 17.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game -- good for eighth, 11th (tied) and third in the league, respectively. She is the only player in the league in the top-15 in all three categories, and is doing it as a 5-foot-11 guard. After a frustrating start to her career, she's showing why she was one of the best college players of all time and the No. 1 overall pick in 2020.
Earlier in the season, Ionescu made history as the first player to record a 30-point triple-double, and in the process tied Candace Parker for the league's all-time lead in triple-doubles with three. She also recently set the Liberty's franchise record with 16 assists in a win over the Mercury.