Athletes usually improve the approximate trajectory significantly. At the age of 24 a role player may have some upside, but at the age of 26, he is not going to suddenly become a superstar.
So what happened to Liberty’s taking Betnijah?
After a good college career at the Rutgers, 6-foot guard Laney was taken by the Chicago Sky in the second round of the 2015 WNBA Draft and soon settled into a role as a defensive specialist off the bench. Its second season derailed with an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament. He had a season on the bench for the Connecticut Suns and then a season as a 5-point-a-game starter for the Indiana Fever.
She seems to have established herself as a useful traveling lady, but hardly a franchise player.
There were indications that there was offensive talent. In a spell with the Perth Lynx in Australia, he averaged 15.2 points a game. With Elitzur Holon in Israel, he scored an average of 19.4 points in a game. But it was easy to write down the numbers given the lower level talent in those leagues.
She then arrived in Atlanta.
Certainly, no one was expecting an aggressive difference maker. “She’ll give us the size and versatility at the defensive end of the floor,” said then-time coach Nicky Colon Told the team’s website. “She will also help build momentum and additional assets on offense, as she is tireless on the glass.”
The aggressive outburst she brought for Dream in 2020 was staggering. He began shooting more than twice as often as he did, which would be a recipe for disaster for most players. But instead, he improved a lot. Despite not giving up defensively, he showed a new ability to make his shot and sink it. His shooting percentage increased, .507 to .388 on 2-pointers, .405 to .303 on 3-pointers and .827 to .581 on free throws.
“I was just talking to him after the workout and I said: ‘You know the scouting report on you is that you can’t shoot, right? You know it’s in everyone’s scout?’ Collen Told the athletic.
Some upgrades only came from the opportunity as Dream abruptly eliminated producer Laney. But mere opportunity does not improve shooting like this or automatically leads to winning the league’s Most Improved Player Award, which he did that season.
Laney was a free agent at the conclusion of 2020, and Liberty won the race to sign him. Of course, there was a danger that his season with Atlanta would prove to be a temporary one and Liberty would make the mistake of shopping at the top of the market.
Instead, 27-year-old Laney has become even better.
Through six games, her 2- and 3-point-shooting percentages have risen again, even though she is still shooting more often. his Usage percentage – The percentage of plays in which she is the lead aggressive actress, which was about 15 in her previous incarnation – increased to 23.5 in Atlanta and 28.3 this year. This makes him an even greater part of the Liberty crime. Hyped rookie Sabrina Ionescu.
Laney has scored 20 or more points in his team’s first six matches, becoming the first Liberty player to achieve it. (The WNBA record for such a start to the season is nine games, owned by Cynthia Cooper of the 1999 Houston Comets.) Defensively, she is one of the major reasons Liberty has Opponents’ points per 100 possessions At 99.2, from 105.9 last season.
Combine that stellar game with the return of Ionescu, who missed nearly all of his rookie seasons with an injury, and is tied with the league-best 5-1 with the Liberty Connecticut Sun, at least en route to his best season four years. Whatever be the case, they have already surpassed last year’s terrible 2-20 record, the second worst season in league history.
Laney almost always talks about his amazing improvement, focusing on his teammates and coaches. “It’s always the first win for me,” she said after a 26-point effort in Liberty’s 88–81 win over the Dallas Wings in Brooklyn on Monday. “Obviously I’m part of the scoring threat, but I never go out and say, well, I need to get so many points.”
Be that as it may, there is every reason to think the points, and Liberty wins, will continue to come in the regular season and beyond.