They own the top pick in this month’s draft, but the New York Liberty are also excited to bring back last year’s second pick, Asia Durr.
The New York Liberty own the top overall pick in the upcoming WNBA Draft, which will proceed as scheduled on April 17 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN). Excitement and hoopla over the first pick shouldn’t deny the Liberty or their fans a most convenient truth.
If and when the 2020 WNBA season begins, the Liberty are set to welcome back another lottery gem: the previous year’s second overall pick, Asia Durr. Though the season has officially been delayed due to pandemic reasons, Sunday marks a joyous occasion for Durr, as she will be celebrating her 23rd birthday.
An electrifying guard out of Louisville, Durr put up averages of 9.7 points (fourth amongst WNBA rookies), and 1.7 assists per game (seventh), while her efficiency rate (8.1) was good for fifth in the rookie rankings. In addition to her New York duties, Durr became one of the first female athletes since Maya Moore to represent the legendary Jordan Brand. She shares the Jumpman honor alongside New York teammate Kia Nurse.
Despite showing some promise, Durr’s rookie season was unfortunately cut short. A groin injury limited her to only 18 games. After successful surgery this offseason, Durr is expected to be a major contributor in this new era of Liberty basketball. When the Liberty’s exploits resume, they’ll take the floor at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
To celebrate Durr’s big day, ESNY brings you five memorable occasions from her young but illustrious basketball career…
11/12/17: Luckiest 13
America officially learned that Durr was going to be a national problem on a November night in Columbus. A battle between her Cardinals and the Ohio State Buckeyes went down to the wire, knotted at 80 after 40 minutes…each of which featured Durr on the court. Thus, five more minutes wasn’t a problem. Well, except if you were part of the Buckeye contingent on and off the court.
Durr, then a junior, scored 13 of Louisville’s 15 points by sinking her last three baskets from the field and six more from the foul line. Her 13-10 advantage over the No. 5 Buckeyes in the final five gave the ninth-ranked Cardinals a 95-90 win and helped set the face to their first ACC tournament victory since 1993.
The 47 points from Durr also set a school record (both men’s and women’s) previously held by Angel McCoughtry, one she would end up tying in February 2019.
6/9/19: How About a Magic Trick?
The Liberty’s season of rebuilding was low on scoreboard victories, but there were plenty of moral wins that gave fans hope. One such display was Durr’s defensive performance in an early-season game against the future WNBA champions from Washington. Durr had four turnovers in a narrow loss to the Mystics, combining it with 11 points, her first double-figure scoring effort in New York.
6/12/19: You’re Darn Shootin’!
Liberty fans got a glimpse of their possible future during a June visit from the Minnesota Lynx. Teaming up with fellow guard, first-round pick, and Jordan Brand representative Kia Nurse, Durr put up what currently stands as a professional career-high 20 points in the Liberty’s 75-69 win. Nurse was right alongside her with 26 points, pacing New York to a big win. Durr also shot 10-of-16 from the field, setting another infantile career-best.
None of Durr’s points were bigger than her final four. With the pesky Lynx refusing to back down, she put in two big baskets that gave the Liberty the win. Her final shot, with New York clinging to a four-point lead, split a Stephanie Talbot-Damiris Dantas double-team to put a floater that sent White Plains into hysterics.
6/19/19: Sky’s the Limit
Durr was pressed into an early leadership role when the sharp-shooting Chicago Sky when injuries and EuroBasket participants limited the Liberty to eight players. Despite the Liberty’s 91-83 loss, Durr shot a perfect 3-of-3 from three-point range, part of a 19-point night, the second-best scoring effort of her rookie campaign. Despite the loss, Durr earned the praises of Liberty head coach and Naismith Hall of Famer Katie Smith.
“She’s competent in what she does. She’s skilled,” Smith said. “We continue to tell her, we drafted for a reason: she’s a scorer. She can shoot it, get to the rim, pull up, she’s a good facilitator.”
6/28/19: Dallas Stings
New Yorkers are certainly used to standout defensive performances against professional squads from Dallas. Usually, they come on the football field, but this one had to be just as sweet. In a June matchup in White Plains, Durr faced off against fellow 2019 lottery draftee Arike Ogunbowale for the first time in the WNBA, but it was far from their first get-together.
The pair had squared off several times in Louisville and Notre Dame’s classic ACC showdowns that closed out the 2010s. If Ogunbowale had forgotten who Durr was, she got reacquainted with her fairly quickly. The South Bend alumna was subjected to two Durr staples: great condition and stifling defense.
Ogunbowale shot 2-of-23 from the field, and the Liberty stole a 69-68 decision. After the game, Nurse proudly looked at her protegé and referred to her as the “Defensive Player of the Year.” Nurse slyly added that she taught the former Cardinal “everything (she) knew.”
Check out Asia’s EXCLUSIVE Interview with ESNY’s Lauren Russell HERE.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags