The Liberty struggled to capture anyone’s fancy in recent years. Not only they stunk, but there was no talent on the roster.
Things are changing slowly. The Liberty turn out to be watchable this season not only because they are winning games, but they feature a game-changer in rookie Asia Durr, who they are building around now and beyond.
On Wednesday night, Durr showed why they selected her as the No. 2 pick by leading the Liberty with 19 points in their 91-83 loss to the Chicago Sky at Westchester County Center. It’s her ability to shoot from long-distance and giving them a boost by hitting shots like that to get the Liberty into the game against the Sky. In the end, she couldn’t do it all by herself because the Sky featured plenty more shooters than her team.
Maybe one day she will with experience of knowing the tricks of the WNBA game.
When she gets better, she will know to make the fancy passes. She may know the behind-the-back dribbles. She can play even better defense to go along with her shooting. She will master doing the little things that make her a complete player such as rebounding and dishing the ball.
Bet on her being more assertive with experience. New York Liberty’s color analyst Julianne Viani mentioned about Durr needing to be more assertive in the second half to play-by-play guy Michael Grady on the YES Network’s Liberty telecast Wednesday night at halftime. That was in reference to the rookie deferring to Tina Charles in the first half.
Durr took charge in the second half by doing all she could to give the Liberty a chance to get back in the game against the Sky along with Brittany Boyd. There’s no question she did this at the urging of Liberty coach Katie Smith at halftime.
The more experience she gets and the more success she achieves, this will be Durr’s team. It’s not just a matter of if, but when.
As a rookie, she knows she can’t do it all by herself. She should trust her teammates in being that she does not know the tricks of the WNBA game just yet. Also, it’s a respect factor where she has to defer to the veterans that played before her.
The Liberty hope Durr is the type of player that can’t be measured by numbers. It’s more about her ability to score much-needed basket and make key shots in a tight game. It’s about showing intangibles. It’s what they envisioned her to do when she was drafted by them. All of this comes
with maturity and experience.
The Liberty can’t force-feed her or go fast forward all together and expect this to happen now. They are realistic to understand they have to trust the process when it comes to Durr’s growth.
Still, it’s easy to imagine what Durr can be for the Liberty. She showed glimpses of it at times in that second half. If nothing else, she piques curiosity about what she will do in her next act.
Here’s what stands out about her: Her work ethic and her determination to be a great player. She just has it when it comes to being a natural scorer and being a natural leader.
Durr has been a winner all her life going back to her days at St. Pius X Catholic High and at Louisville. Don’t expect that to change now that she is with the Liberty.
There’s no hiding this. There’s pressure for Durr to do well. The team needs to establish an identity, and for that to be formed, it starts with getting great players. A franchise player to be exact. The Liberty has to hit on their draft picks, and that means Durr has to be that franchise player for this franchise to go to great heights.
From watching her in a few games, she showed she can handle it. She averages 12.3 points per game on 44 percent shooting. Her assists and her rebounds can be better, but that will come.
Right now, the Liberty want her to be a primary scorer. She demonstrated that in the Liberty’s 75-69 victory over the Minnesota Lynx this season by scoring career-high 20 points and making big shots to seal the win.
She should be the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year. She can be an All-Star this season.
The possibilities are endless for the rookie. She hasn’t even started yet, and already, she is paying dividends for the Liberty.
It’s nights like Wednesday night and even last Wednesday night that got Liberty supporters excited about Durr. It’s nights like that have people glued in to the Liberty now.
It won’t be long until she is the face of the Liberty.