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WNBA Free Agency: Breanna Stewart to sign with the New York Liberty

WNBA Free Agency: Breanna Stewart to sign with the New York Liberty

The biggest domino of the WNBA offseason has fallen.

Breanna Stewart — with a resume that includes two titles and Finals MVPs, an MVP, five All-WNBA selections (four-time First Team, one-time Second Team), four All-Defensive Team selections, four All-Star appearances and a Rookie of the Year award — plans to sign with the New York Liberty.

The source on that blockbuster news? Well, a video posted by Breanna Stewart.

It's hard to overstate how big of a shift this is for the league — and for the Liberty.

Stewart is, at the absolute worst, the second best player in the league right now. She led The W in scoring last season (21.8 points per game), while also grabbing 7.6 rebounds, dishing out 2.9 assists and racking up 2.5 stocks (1.6 steals, 0.9 blocks) a night. 

Stewart is an offense onto herself, able to generate good shots for herself from anywhere, while also being a good enough passer to punish defenses for sending extra help. She can bend defenses as the ball-handler or screener in pick-and-rolls, feast on size mismatches on the block and fly off screens and let it rip from three. (It's worth mentioning she drained nearly 38% of her threes on career-high volume [5.2 attempts] last season.)

This is all while being one of the best defenders in the sport. Stewart had a legitimate case for Defensive Player of the Year last season. Her massive wingspan and instincts as a help defender allow her to toggle through multiple assignments and clean up messes with ease. There's enough lateral quickness to defend 1-through-3, and enough length and strength to battle with 4s and some 5s. 

Stewart's two-way prowess would make virtually any team an instant contender. That the Liberty are adding her two weeks after trading for another MVP in Jonquel Jones is patently absurd.

Games aren't played on paper, but there's only one frontcourt in The W that could conceivably match the collective talent that Stewart and Jones have — A'ja Wilson and Candace Parker, now (and somewhat controversially) in Las Vegas. 

Stewart's ability to space, shoot or attack closeouts should vibe well with Jones' interior dominance. And Jones' ability to shoot from multiple platforms should unlock plenty of space for Stewart to work with.

Both of them can serve as how-do-you-guard-this screening partners for Sabrina Ionescu, who's fresh off the first All-WNBA (second team) and All-Star season of her young career. A big three of Stewart, Jones and Ionescu is unheard of and, at least among Eastern Conference teams, unrivaled.

If this team is able to stay healthy and gel, it's hard not to envision a deep playoff run for this group — this year, and for many years to come.

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