By Luis Vazquez
The announcement by New York Liberty President Isiah Thomas was a surprise. Tanisha Wright decided to take the 2017 WNBA season to rest and recover from injuries that we now know took it’s toll over two demanding seasons as the team’s main point guard.
“Tanisha has played a pivotal role in all our success on and off the court over the past two seasons, as a leader in the locker room and the community; she has been a tremendous ambassador for the WNBA and our franchise,” Thomas said.
Wow! That leaves quite a hole to be filled. But the Liberty have a problem at that position. They have an embarrassment of riches at the position but a puzzle in how to utilize it properly. New York has three point guards of which newcomer Bria Hartley appears to be the best fit. Shoni Shimmel is a pure point but her weight has been an issue with Liberty brass. Brittney Boyd will come off the bench and Epiphanny Prince can play both.
Sugar Rodgers is the elite shooting guard on the team and cannot be moved, which leaves Prince with two options, play starting point or come off the bench as a shooting guard.
Rebecca Allen is a shooting guard who can play small forward due to her long arms and legs. Zhavante Zellous can play occasional point but is more a shooting/slasher guard coming off the bench. She also is the most vocal and outside of Tina Charles most likely will lead the second unit. Ameryst Alston, the Liberty second round pick is a bench player until further notice.
How the Liberty decide on the guard positions will determine the direction the team takes in 2017. WNBA championships are won from guard play and the reason New York must settle on the right mix.
Most likely it will be a Hartley-Sugar or Prince-Sugar in the backcourt with Zellous used as a third guard playing the small forward or off the bench. Kiah Stokes move into either starting power forward or center position makes her friend Hartley the most likely candidate.
It will be interesting to see how the Liberty solve the glut at the guard position.