Earlier this month, the New York Liberty made standout Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu, which was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. There was no suspense in that decision; from the moment she decided to return to school for her senior season last spring, everyone knew Ionescu would be the top pick this year.
But while everyone knew who would be the first player off the board, there isn't the same consensus about which rookie from this draft class will have the best WNBA career. Nothing proved that more than an Instagram live discussion between two of the WNBA's all-time greats: Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi. The former UConn college teammates spent hours on IG late on Saturday night, discussing a wide range of topics, and were intermittently joined by their significant others -- Bird is dating U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe and Taurasi is married to retired WNBA All-Star Penny Taylor.
Towards the end of their chat, Taurasi brought up a tough question, asking which player from the 2020 draft class would have the best career? Bird went with No. 4 overall pick Chennedy Carter, while Taylor took Ionescu's college teammate, and the No. 2 pick, Satou Sabally. Taurasi was the only one who chose Ionescu -- a pick Bird deemed "politically correct."
Here's a link to watch the discussion, which features some very NSFW language -- especially towards the end. And here's a transcript of the newsworthy portion if you're unable to watch:
Taurasi: Who is gonna be the best player out of this draft class. You gotta put a million dollars on it right now?
Bird: A million?
Taurasi: A million. Who is gonna be the best player in this draft class? Right now.
Bird: Chennedy Carter.
Taylor: God I haven't watched enough, I have a two year old. I like Sabally because of her size and strength.
Bird: I agree. That would have been my final two.
Taylor: It's hard, though. They're all good.
Bird: No, it's so hard. This is like gun to my head s--t.
Taurasi: Obviously Sabrina is amazing. Like, she does all the things --
Bird: I hate you right now. You're being politically correct.
Taurasi: I didn't choose her! I said Sabrina does all the things in college that you and me did.
Bird: Wait, what was the question?
Taurasi: I said, who is gonna have the best basketball career.
Bird: Give a name. Give a name. Go!
Taurasi: I'm gonna go with Sabrina.
No one doubts Ionescu's ability to play at the next level, but it is interesting that none of the three WNBA stars immediately chose her as the best player from this rookie group. Even Taurasi hedged a bit before finally giving her the nod.
Ionescu could obviously end up proving Bird and Taylor wrong. She's incredibly skilled, a strong leader and has a competitive drive that's largely unmatched. At the same time, she's not an elite athlete, and in general, it's harder for point guards to dominate the game. Plus, she's going to a bad Liberty team that's very young.
As for Bird's pick, Carter is an explosive shooting guard who can create her own shot whenever she wants. She has to become more efficient, and improve other aspects of her game, but that skill is in high demand in the league, and gives her a high ceiling. It's a similar story for Sabally, who was Taylor's pick. There aren't many bigs in the league with her combination of size, athleticism and ability to play on the perimeter. The ones who do have it are the game's elite -- Elena Delle Donne, Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones, just to name a few.
The 2020 WNBA season is currently postponed like every other sports league in the U.S., but when things do get underway again, it will be fascinating to see how these rookies adjust to the WNBA.