Ava’s Angle: Is Breanna Stewart the final piece to the New York Liberty’s puzzle? 

Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart tries to score during the first half of a WNBA basketball game against the New York Liberty, June 19, 2022, in New York. Stewart is headed to New York. The most coveted free agent this offseason, who won the WNBA MVP award in 2018, announced on social media that she was going to New York with a photo of her in a Liberty shirt on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. Stewart had spent her entire career in Seattle since the Storm drafted her first in 2016. Photo by Mary Altaffer/AP Photo.

Last week, former league MVP Breanna Stewart announced her decision to play for the New York Liberty. Leaving the Seattle Storm after seven years and winning two WNBA championships, Stewart will begin a new chapter in the Big Apple. 

On the first day that free agency opened, Stewart took to Instagram and broke the news on her decision to sign with New York. Prior to this, she had been very interactive with fans on social media through emojis and subtle hints on her free agency plans. Now that the news is out, this blockbuster deal has Stewart joining Sabrina Ionescu, Jonquel Jones, newly acquired Courtney Vandersloot and the rest of the Liberty’s roster. 

“I want to go to the place where I can continue to help this league to become better, to continue to raise the standard,” said Stewart in an ESPN interview. “I feel like, why not go to the biggest market in all of sports, and I’m really excited to go after their first championship.” 

Although the details of this deal are yet to be released, this is one of, if not the biggest, free agency signings in WNBA history. Not only is Stewart one of the most accomplished women’s basketball players of all time, but she is joining what is being called the “superteam” in the New York Liberty. 

Stewart is well known for her time and achievements while playing for the University of Connecticut. In each of her years at UConn, she helped the team win four National Championships and set the record of being named the Final Four’s most outstanding player four times in a row. Diana Taurasi is the only other women’s basketball player to have been named to that award more than once, and she was MVP twice. Additionally in college, Stewart was awarded three-time consensus national player of the year. 

Stewart’s college accomplishments are endless, but going back to her WNBA career, she was drafted No. 1 overall by the Seattle Storm in 2016. She spent seven years in Seattle, winning two WNBA championships (2018, 2020) and being awarded Most Valuable Player (2018). 

Now back to present time, ‘Stewie’ has joined the New York Liberty in their efforts to build a championship pedigree franchise. In history, the Liberty have made four appearances in the WNBA Finals (1997, 1999, 2000, and 2002) and remain without a championship. The 2002 season was the last time that they have reached the finals, and they have not made it past the second round of the playoffs since 2015. It has clearly been a bumpy road for an ‘old’ New York team, but this offseason, they seem to be making a huge push to travel to new heights and become a championship-contending team. Stewart is the key piece to this puzzle. 

Stewart is an extremely decorated player who has had immense amounts of success in her career, and she’s still just 28 years of age. Over her seven years in the league, she had averaged 20.7 points per game. In six years of play, Stewart became a four-time All Star. With her addition, New York is creating a forceful Big Three with point guard Ionescu and former MVP Jones. Stewart and Jones will power the frontcourt with Ionescu behind them, knocking down all the baskets making New York a dangerous opponent for the future. 

After tearing her Achilles tendon while playing for Dynamo Kursk in Russia, Stewart missed the entirety of the 2019 season. Since then, she’s made a full recovery and has played like the ‘Stewie’ that we all know and love. In the last three seasons, Stewart has averaged 20.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, all just about the same as her overall career statistics. 

Stewart’s last game with the Seattle Storm was bittersweet as it was also the last game of legendary point guard Sue Bird. It was also a record-breaking game for her as she scored the most points ever in a single WNBA postseason game with 42. The Storm will now have to begin a new season without their beloved stars in Stewart and Bird, both UConn icons. The attention is now turning from the West Coast to the New York Liberty who are on their way to being a top team in the WNBA in contention for a title. 

Stewart was one of the top free agents on the market this offseason, and the Liberty wasted no time to lock her up. She has been one of, if not the best on every court she steps on from high school to the professional leagues. Stewart is originally from North Syracuse, New York and has not played for an East Coast team since 2016. A goal for Stewart is to come back to play for her home state, and take the Liberty all the way to the finish line. 

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