Sabrina Ionescu's WNBA journey will begin April 17 with virtual draft

Sabrina Ionescu's WNBA journey will begin April 17 with virtual draft

The coronavirus pandemic has halted the sports world.

Seasons have been paused or postponed. The NCAA canceled the men's and women's tournaments. The 2020 NFL Draft now will be conducted remotely. The NHL is postponing its draft, combine and awards show.

The WNBA will be following the NFL's model, by holding its 2020 draft without players, guests or media, the league announced Thursday. The virtual draft still will happen on April 17 and can be seen live on ESPN 2 starting at 8 p.m. ET.

The New York Liberty will on the clock when the draft begins, but it's well known that they plan to take Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu with the No. 1 pick.

The Walnut Creek native had a prolific college career. She became the first player in NCAA history to record 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists. The Ducks legend returned to Oregon for her senior season to bring a title back to Eugene after Oregon lost in the 2019 Final Four to Baylor, a game in which Ionescu was held scoreless in the fourth quarter.

The unfinished business tour was ended abruptly by the coronavirus pandemic. A few days after the Ducks beat Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship Game, the NCAA announced it was canceling the tournament for public-health reasons, ending Ionescu's season and collegiate career before she was able to paint what surely would have been her masterpiece

"The Triple Double Queen" put Oregon basketball on the map and became the face of college basketball this season. She was unanimously named the AP Women's Player of the Year, the first player to do so since UConn's Breanna Stewart.

Ionescu is a force on the basketball court. Vision, handles, shooting, leadership -- she's the whole package and is destined to be the face of the WNBA and a basketball icon.

The 2020 WNBA Draft will be special for Ionescu for other reasons than her draft slot. The WNBA will honor Kobe Bryant's daughter Gianna, as well as Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, all three of whom were killed along with Bryant and five others in a tragic helicopter crash on Jan. 26.

Ionescu and Bryant were close. She spoke at his public memorial and then flew back to the Bay and created the 2K-1K-1K club while leading the Ducks to a win over No. 7 Stanford.

Her play has drawn praise not only from Bryant, but also from Steph Curry -- who she texts for advice -- and LeBron James, who shouted out Ionescu after she became the NCAA's all-time triple-double leader.

She put Oregon women's hoops on the map and became one of the faces of basketball along the way. Ionescu knows how important she is to growing the women's game and to continuing Kobe and Gianna's legacy.

[RELATED: Curry-Ionescu relationship one that's great for basketball]

That journey continues April 17 when she'll hear her name called as the newest face of the Liberty and the WNBA.

Warriors coaches holding virtual 'cooking challenge,' Steve Kerr says

Warriors coaches holding virtual 'cooking challenge,' Steve Kerr says

With all NBA travel on an indefinite suspension due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, NBA coaches have been spending a lot more time at home than they normally would during March and April.

Instead of spending time on the road scouting and preparing for the NBA playoffs, they've been forced to find other ways to fill their time.

With just about all restaurants being confined to takeout or delivery, families have been staying in and cooking more frequently. In that spirit, the Warriors coaching staff is trying to stay competitive.

"Believe it or not, we have a coaches' challenge tonight," Kerr said on 95.7 The Game Thursday. "All of the coaches, either last night, tonight or tomorrow are supposed to cook the same meal. The team chef has basically challenged us, and we are all supposed to report back to him with a photo and some kind of video of a family member commenting on the dish."

[RELATED: Lacob acknowledges Warriors could trade down in NBA draft]

Kerr said the dish was chicken parmesan, a classic family meal.

Given Kerr's various successes as an NBA player, coach, executive and broadcaster, it's hard to imagine that his cooking skills wouldn't at least be above average.

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Why Joe Lacob mentioned Harrison Barnes when praising Andrew Wiggins

Why Joe Lacob mentioned Harrison Barnes when praising Andrew Wiggins

Andrew Wiggins was impressive in his first 12 games in a Warriors uniform.

The 25-year-old averaged 19.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.4 blocks, while shooting nearly 46 percent overall and just under 34 percent from 3-point range.

"Our coaching staff is very excited about Andrew and how he may fit here going forward," Warriors owner Joe Lacob told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic on Thursday. "Very hard -- it's so hard -- to find wings right now in the NBA with good positional size and athleticism.

"He's a walking 20 points. He's gonna go out there and he's gonna get you 20 points in any game. He's capable of doing a lot more than that. But that's pretty good."

And then Lacob mentioned a former Warriors player that had to sign elsewhere once Kevin Durant decided to come to Golden State.

"When Harrison Barnes was with us -- and I loved Harrison, different kind of player a little bit -- but we would sit there and say, 'If we can just get him to get 20 points in a game it would really help,'" he said. "You know (you've got a) good chance to win a game if you got three guys scoring 20 in a game.

"And we needed that."

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Barnes averaged 10.1 points per game during Steve Kerr's first year at the helm in 2014-15, and then 11.7 points per game the following season.

Over the 2015 and 2016 NBA Playoffs combined, he scored 20 or more points only one time (Game 5 of the 2015 Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets).

[RELATED: Lacob acknowledges Warriors could trade down in NBA draft]

Assuming the Warriors are fully healthy next season, it might be difficult for Wiggins to average 20 per game. It's probably more realistic to expect him to register 15 to 18 points per night, but on the best shooting percentages of his career.

Combine that with consistent defense and engagement and Golden State would be thrilled with those results.

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