Rebecca Allen experienced what really turned out to be her rookie season in 2016. Yes, she was a member of the Liberty in 2015, after signing as a free agent earlier in the winter, but her American professional debut was halted early on by injury.
Although a rookie in the WNBA, Allen was no stranger to the professional game, having already logged six seasons on the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) in her native Australia, even being named the WNBL Defensive Player of the Year in 2014.
But Allen played just two games for New York in 2015 before undergoing micro fracture surgery and missing the rest of the season. After returning to Australia, recovering, and coming back to play in the WNBL last winter, Allen’s ascension to the WNBA was delayed yet again, this time to train with the Australian Opals prior to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio.
Finally, in late June Allen was back in a Liberty uniform for the first time in more than a year, and the wait proved to be worthwhile for both New York and Allen, who was eager to test herself in the best league in the world.
What followed was a glimpse of what the sharp-shooter will have in store as her ability to impact games continues to grow. The difference making ability was felt immediately, in her 2016 debut against the Chicago Sky on June 24, Allen scored 8 points in 12 minutes, knocking down both of her 3-point attempts.
Three weeks later, Allen scored in double figures for the first time in her career, finishing with 11 points in a win over the Atlanta Dream at The Garden. Nearing the Olympic break, she would pour in 19 points to lead the Liberty to a road victory over the Mystics, coming off the bench to contribute to a record-breaking 69 points from the Libs’ second unit; she shot 4-of-6 from 3-point range in the win.
Allen would score in double figures in 5-of-13 games to end the regular season, and her 3-point shooting proficiency came to define her ability to help New York stretch the floor. She finished the season shooting .567 from long distance, which did not come from a small sample size, she ended up playing in 21 games with six starts.
With Sugar Rodgers breaking team records for long-range shooting, New York found itself in need of another shooting threat from the outside, and Allen emerged as a prime candidate to continue to fill that role. Bill Laimbeer praised her shooting ability before many had seen what she was capable of, and her 2016 season offered up a lot of promise for what is still to come in her young career.