Almost three weeks ago, the New York Liberty drafted for the first time under Joseph Tsai, who purchased the team in late January. New York had a solid draft, adding Asia Durr, Han Xu and Megan Huff, who are all excellent scorers.
Although social media, news stations and fans are raving about the additions to the Liberty, there is one factor that may hold this team up from improving: Star center Tina Charles has not re-signed with the team.
New York does not have to worry about any other team swooping in to sign their star center, having placed the core tag on her for the second season in a row. Additionally, Charles’ offseason activities do not appear to factor into why she has not re-signed with the Liberty, as is sometimes the case for other players.
Charles is the best all-around player on the Liberty because of her dominance in the post, consistency, scoring and defense. New York needs to re-sign its star center as soon as possible before she finds herself taking a page from Liz Cambage’s playbook and looking elsewhere.
Here are three reasons why the Liberty must get Charles to re-sign ASAP:
Potential dynamic duo
New York needs to get Charles to re-sign because of the potential duo that she can form with Asia Durr. Over time, the two can form a one-two punch combo like Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner.
Drafting Durr was a gift for Charles, who took on the scoring load last season for New York. Last season, she was the only player to average double digits in scoring.
The addition of Durr will provide this Liberty team with speed, scoring and durability. Durr is a multifaceted guard who can handle the ball, attack the rim and shoot the three at a solid rate. At the end of Durr’s senior season, she averaged 21.2 points and shot 34.3 percent from three and 43.9 percent from the floor.
Together, Durr and Charles could dominate the pick-and-roll, the in and out game and play at a faster pace while running a solid half-court offense. Durr’s ability to score will decrease the number of double teams Charles faces. Both players have an exceptional mid-range game and will be able to play off of one another.
Watch the footwork
Dominant bigs are hard to find in the WNBA, especially ones that can take over the game with their scoring, considering the fast-paced style of play. Charles is arguably one of the top five centers in the league.
Since her time at UConn, she has separated herself from others with her footwork, quick moves and high motor. She is an interesting center because she is quick on her feet, athletic and fundamental.
Last season, Charles averaged 19.7 points (7th in the league), 7 rebounds and 2.7 assists while playing 33 minutes per game. With the physicality in the WNBA, often times durability is overlooked. In the 2018 season, she only missed one game, averaging the most minutes on the team. The Liberty need this type of consistency in order to get better.
The face of the franchise
At this point in time, Charles is the best player on the Liberty, and will be for the next couple of years. Yes, Durr will take the torch down the line, but for right now her teammate holds that title.
Since being traded to New York in 2014, Charles has led the team in scoring each year, and the franchise has made the playoffs in three out of her five seasons.
In addition to her scoring dominance, she is a proven leader and winner. Charles won two national titles at UConn, two Olympic gold medals and WNBA MVP honors in 2012. She is also a six-time All-Star and a five-time All-WNBA First Team recipient. This experience is valuable and will help the incoming rookies and current roster.
Charles will welcome Durr, Xu and Huff while teaching them how to play, win and handle themselves in the WNBA. Without Charles, the Liberty would fall apart and take a huge step back as a franchise.
Although the team missed the playoffs last season, there is still hope that they can rebound this season. Therefore, the Liberty re-signing their franchise player needs to be a top priority.