For a player that initially went undrafted in the WNBA draft in 2017, Marine Johannès has surely made a name for herself in the league since. The New York Liberty guard is one of the most exciting current prospects in the league, which is thanks to the fact that her crafty ball movement, show-stopping finishes, and shooting ability have made her a key factor in the Liberty’s depth. In simpler terms, Marine Johannès is a walking bucket.
Coming out of France, Johannès started playing professional basketball in Europe in 2011 at the age of seventeen. By the 2015-16 season, she was averaging 14.2 points per game (PPG) and 4.4 assists per game (APG), and she went on to win the French Cup with Bourges in the EuroLeague three seasons in a row after that.
As for her WNBA career, while she went undrafted in 2017, Johannès was later signed to the New York Liberty for the 2019 WNBA season. She averaged 9.2 PPG in 19.0 minutes per game (MPG) in her rookie season for the Liberty. Due to COVID restrictions and overseas commitments, Johannès didn’t return to the New York Liberty again until the 2022 season.
Between 2019 and 2022, Marine Johannès signed with the EuroLeague’s Lyon ASVEL Féminin in France. She steadily improved, winning All-EuroLeague second team honors two years in a row. In the 2022-2023 EuroLeague season, ASVEL won both the Ligue Féminine in France and the EuroCup Championship. Johannès was named EuroCup Finals MVP for 2023.
During the 2022 WNBA season for the up-and-coming New York Liberty, Johannès played in 27 games and started in 10 overall. She averaged 25.5 MPG, 10.0 PPG, and 5.3 APG. Often coming in as a back-up guard for both Sabrina Ionescu and Betnijah Laney that season, she provided a boost in shooting and playmaking with her 43.0 percent three-point shooting average on the season.
As we all know by now, the Liberty went through a ton of roster changes in the offseason between 2022 and 2023. Though Johannès was not affected this year by the WNBA’s prioritization rule (since it was only going to be her third season in the league), she was still late to join the Liberty’s roster at the beginning of the season due to her French team’s long EuroCup run. With the addition of Courtney Vandersloot to the roster, Johannès was pushed down even further in the priority line of Liberty guards. Many were unsure of what her contribution to the team would be this year.
Sure, her minutes went down this season, but Marine still played in 35 of the Liberty’s total 40 games in the regular season. Her presence as a bench player is extremely useful to head coach Sandy Brondello, who can count on her for good minutes at any point. She makes the Liberty’s roster even scarier than it is if you just look at their go-to starters.
When you take any of Sabrina Ionescu, Betnijah Laney, or Courtney Vandersloot out of the game, the opposing team may think “ah, a break,” but that’s certainly not the case with this Liberty squad. You have a fresh and rested Marine Johannès to worry about—someone who can snake her way to the basket for the most beautiful finish you’ve ever seen, shoot from anywhere on the court, and make passes so insane you don’t even realize what is happening.
She averaged 7.1 PPG and 1.7 APG in just under 19.0 MPG during the 2023 season. To that she adds a 36.8 three-point shooting percentage and a 41.4 field goal percentage.
What makes Johannès so exciting as a prospect is that despite the fact that her minutes with the Liberty are not extremely consistent, given she is usually the fourth option for a guard in the lineup, she steps into any game situation and immediately makes an impact. But she doesn’t just make an impact; if Johannès plays eight minutes of basketball in any given game, those eight minutes are going to be some of the most beautiful basketball you’ve ever seen.
Let’s look at some of it, shall we:
In a game against the Chicago Sky, Johannès gets some first quarter minutes. Stef Dolson grabs the rebound and chucks it to the running Johannès, who speeds up and delivers a gorgeous behind the back assist to Kayla Thornton. Something about Johannès—she’s gonna run. By the time the defender turns around to chase her down, she’s already setting up her shot or setting up one of her teammates.
Courtney Vandersloot passes to the (for whatever reason) open Johannès, who breezes past a pair of defenders who don’t even see her coming. She splits past them and finishes with the underhand layup. It’s not only efficient but also crafty.
How did she see that? I don’t know, but it’s fun to watch. One of the best parts of these highlights is seeing the other team look confused, shocked or disappointed after the play… no one is ever expecting a Marine play!
It’s hard to pick just one Marine Johannès three-point shot to feature. This one reflects how good she is at the contested shot. Often she is so fast with her release that the defender doesn’t have much time to do anything about it. However, even when they do, she manages to sink it. She can shoot from deep, shoot off balance, shoot in transition… It’s hard to stop her!
All season long, the Liberty have relied on Marine Johannès to step up when needed, no matter how frequent or infrequent that has been. The big talk around the Liberty this season has obviously been the superstar starters and the potential of this team, but that potential doesn’t go very far unless you have good back up to cover during off-minutes or when injuries hit. Johannès is the epitome of being ready whenever your number is called.
The future is bright for Marine. She is one of France’s biggest national team prospects going into the 2024 Olympics, and they are set to host the Olympic Games in Paris, France. Sporting Johannès along with another WNBA favorite, Gabby Williams, on the team, Lyon ASVEL is set for another big season in the EuroLeague.
Unfortunately, this all means we may not be able to see Marine Johannès in the WNBA for a little while after the New York Liberty wrap up the 2023 season. There are rumblings saying that the French National Team will not allow any of their roster to participate in the 2024 WNBA season if they wish to participate in the Olympics. Mix that with the WNBA’s prioritization rules becoming more strict as of the 2024 season (players will have to report to training camp on day one or risk being suspended for the entire season), and Johannès’ 2024 WNBA hopes aren’t looking too good.
Still, she will be a key player to watch in the upcoming Olympic Games and on the French National Team for years to come. Hopefully, she’ll be back to the WNBA as soon as possible. She represents the ability for players to make names for themselves in the W at any point in their careers, and her trajectory has been impressive to watch. In a league where superstar talk seems to dominate, it’s players like Marine Johannès that remind us that it takes a whole team to make a successful WNBA season.
Also, you can’t go wrong with some visually stunning basketball.
Stats via Basketball Reference and ESPN.