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Liberty's Sabrina Ionescu Earns All-WNBA Honors

The Liberty's third-year franchise face earned one more accolade to cap off her WNBA season.

The release of the 2022 All-WNBA Teams on Thursday night featured some seafoam representation, as franchise face Sabrina Ionescu was among the ten nominated. 

Ionescu, fresh off her third professional season, was named to the Second Team group alongside Sylvia Fowles of Minnesota, Los Angeles' Nneka Ogwumike, and the WNBA Finals-competing pair of Jonquel Jones and Alyssa Thomas, each repping the Connecticut Sun. She becomes the first Liberty nominee to any All-WNBA Team since Tina Charles in 2017. 

“I’m honored to be named to the All-WNBA Second Team alongside some of the league’s very best,” Ionescu said in a statement from the team. “Coming into this year healthy was a difference-maker, and I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface as to what we can accomplish together. As exciting as this award is, I’m even more excited for the future of the New York Liberty organization.”

The 2022 season was perhaps the Association's official introduction to Ionescu's full potential after her first two seasons were marred by injuries. As one of two New Yorkers to appear in all 36 Liberty games this season, Ionescu led the team in scoring (17.4 per game), assists (6.3), and defensive rebounds (6.1), which were respectively good for eighth, second, and fifth in the league. 

Ionescu also set WNBA history with two triple-doubles this season, joining Chicago's Candace Parker as both the only players to earn multiple triple-doubles in the same regular season and the only to pull off the feat three times in their careers. Prior accolades for Ionescu's season included her first WNBA All-Star Game nomination (where she earned a victory in the Skills Challenge), two Eastern Conference Player of the Month Awards, and a First Team nod from the Associated Press. Ionescu is currently competing in the American training effort for the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup, which tips off on Sept. 22 in Sydney. 

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This season saw Ionescu, the top pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft, take on a larger leadership role after the team lost 2021 All-Star Betnijah Laney to an injury for most of the season. Such efforts didn't go unnoticed by a Liberty group that improved its win total by four (16-20), create its first playoff appearance streak since 2015-17, and even steal a playoff win in a best-of-three set with defending champion Chicago.

"I think she's more vocal for sure. She's taking ownership of that on the court," Liberty veteran Sami Whitcomb said of Ionescu late in the season. "She's been trying to lead by example...I definitely think she's stepping into a (leader's) role."

"I think Sabrina is still a young player, still a second year...she's still learning, but I think she realized she is a pretty good player," Liberty head coach Sandy Brondello said of Ionescu, who missed all but three games of her rookie campaign. "She's shown the potential she has. She's put a lot on her back and she's up for the challenge ... her poise to handle whatever she's thrown, I'm happy and impressed with that."

WNBA MVP A'ja Wilson of Las Vegas headlined the first team, flanked by teammate Kelsey Plum. Other top nominees included Parker, Skylar Diggins-Smith (Phoenix), and Breanna Stewart (Seattle). The WNBA Finals continue on Sunday afternoon with Las Vegas looking to clinch the title in Game 4 of a best-of-five series against Connecticut (4 p.m. ET, ESPN). 

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags