Sabrina Ionescu
Brian Davies/The Register-Guard via AP, File

For the first time in team history, the New York Liberty will choose first in the WNBA Draft after taking the top pick in Tuesday’s lottery.

New York basketball will welcome in a highly anticipated top pick after all. The New York Liberty emerged as the winner of Tuesday’s WNBA Draft Lottery, drawing the top pick in next spring’s selection proceedings.

By virtue of having the worst cumulative record over the last two seasons (17-51), the Liberty had the top odds entering (44.2%). For the first time in what feels like a while, the odds fell in New York’s favor.

Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb represented the team during Tuesday’s event. The lottery was revealed during halftime of the WNBA Playoffs’ semifinal game between the Connecticut Sun and the Los Angeles Sparks.

“This is an exciting time for our organization and our fans,” Kolb said in a team statement. “Once again, we have the opportunity to bring in some of the best basketball talent available as we continue working to build toward a WNBA championship.”

This is the first time the Liberty will choose first in the WNBA Draft. Their previously highest pick came in last year’s selection, when they look Louisville guard Asia Durr second overall.

The lottery served as de facto sweepstakes for Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu. A California native, Ionescu is the consensus top pick after setting an NCAA record for most career triple-doubles (18). She almost entered last year’s draft, but opted to return for her senior season Eugene.

Ionescu, 21, averaged 19.9 points, 8.2 assists, and 7.4 rebounds over 38 games last year. Oregon reached the Final Four for the first time in program history and also secured back-to-back Pac-12 titles, having last done the latter in 1999-2000.

Oregon head coach Kelly Graves took notice of the developments on Twitter.

Elsewhere in the lottery, the Dallas Wings (25-43) leapfrogged the Indiana Fever (19-49) to take the second over pick. The Atlanta Dream (31-37) rounded out the top four. Remaining first round slots were filled by the league’s eight playoff teams in ascending order of record.

The 2020 WNBA Draft will be held at a date to-be-determined next spring.

2020 WNBA DRAFT ORDER (1st Round)
1. NEW YORK LIBERTY
2. Dallas Wings
3. Indiana Fever
4. Atlanta Dream
5. Phoenix Mercury
6. Minnesota Lynx
7. Seattle Storm
8. Chicago Sky
9. Dallas Wings (from Las Vegas)
10. Connecticut Sun (from Los Angeles)
11. Connecticut Sun
12. Washington Mystics

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