The Liberty started the season on a high note as the newest superteam in their block, winning 90-73 in their home opener against the Indiana Fever.
Fans at the Barclays Center welcomed Brianna Stewart, Courtney Vandersloot and Jonkel Jones, while fans in Indiana got a glimpse of No. 1 overall draft pick Arya Boston for the second time in the regular season.
It was Stewart who made headlines in his Brooklyn debut for the Liberty with a career-high and single-game franchise-record 45 points.
But this weekend, fans across the country didn’t see a standout player drafted last month in this year’s NCAA Division I championship game. Charlie Collier, the No. 1 overall pick just two years ago, was gone. Neither a championship ring nor First Round status guarantees entry to the WNBA roster.
All of these players were part of a long list of NCAA stars who were randomly dropped from the professional roster just days before the season started on Friday.
Instead, fans have seen two superteams come to life thanks to the free agency arms race. The defending champion Las Vegas Aces added seven-time All-Star Candace Parker to a roster that already included last season’s Most Valuable Player Aja Wilson and high-scoring guard Kelsey Plumb. rice field. Liberty, the original WNBA franchise chasing its first championship, has added Stewart, Jones and VanderSloot to a group led by 2020 No. 1 overall pick Sabrina Ionescu.
If rookies aren’t given the chance to grow, how will such a future superteam be created?
“Let me just say this,” said Alexis Morris, who started at Louisiana State University’s point guard in the title game. After the Connecticut sun hurt her, she said on TikTok. “I’m fine with being waived from WNBA 2023.”
“Everyone did,” she added. “Nobody was safe.”
For longtime fans of the league, this should come as no surprise. Such dramatic reductions are made every year. The league has her 12-team, 144-man roster slot, and typically only about half of her 36 players selected in the WNBA draft make it to Opening Day. Only 15 of the players selected this year are currently on the roster.
U.S. players have to wait until the year they turn 22 to qualify for the WNBA, three years longer than men who want to play in the NBA.
‘I’m in no hurry to get to the league,’ said LSU star forward angel wreath, a popular figure in name, image and likeness deals since her team won the title in April. “I make more money than some of the potential top players in the league.”
In New York on Sunday, it was just as remarkable who played and who didn’t. Liberty has cut Didi Richards, who has been her fan favorite since her team drafted her in 2021. Indiana’s roster did not include rookie Radasia Williams, who was part of the LSU title fight.
“The whole league is training at home,” said Los Angeles Sparks star forward Neka Ogwimike, president of the players’ association. wrote on twitter.
Many fans are looking for players who watched the game in early April. An average of 9.9 million viewers watched the Iowa-LSU championship match, setting a record. Over 19,000 fans packed into the American He Airlines Center in Dallas. None of the three draft finalists made the season-opening roster.
It’s a painfully obvious predicament for both current WNBA stars and those who have been fired. Plum, who was nominated No. 1 overall in 2017, said this spring,dog class‘ aims to help collegiate athletes transition to the professional level.
After the first day of training camp with the Sun, Morris said on TikTok“For the league to grow, we have to prepare our players for what’s to come.” , I think it can be harmful,” he added.
Still, skill doesn’t always translate into roster spots. Active and fired players point to larger teams and rosters as a solution. Players and fans argue that more investment in the league means there are more teams and more players with more slots. Last year, the league raised $75 million from more than 20 investors. last season became the most-watched regular season in 14 years, a 16% increase in viewership over the 2021 season.
But further change will take time.
WNBA commissioner: ‘We’re not in a hurry’ Cathy Engelbart saidadded that the league hopes to add at least two more teams over the next two to four years. “In the long run, it’s more than that,” she added.
As the ratings increase, so does the pressure. A sold-out crowd of nearly 20,000 watched the Minnesota Lynx vs. Chicago Sky in the league opener in Canada on May 13 in Toronto.
On Sunday, Stewart watched thousands of fans in the stands celebrating the superteam’s first win and home debut. “I think I made the right decision” she said Coming to Liberty (1-1).
I’m sure The Fever (0-2) would feel the same about picking Boston, who had 15 points on Sunday. She hasn’t been able to lead Indiana to victory yet, but she at least has a chance to try.