June 25, 2020 

Bec Allen opts out of 2020 WNBA season

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The Aussie sharpshooter who was positioned for a breakthrough WNBA season will sit out

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New York Liberty guard Rebecca Allen (9) during the WNBA game between the New York Liberty and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA on July 24, 2019. Photo Credit: Chris Poss

The sharpshooting “spida” Bec Allen has officially elected to opt-out the 2020 season, our own Howard Megdal reported.

Her contract will be suspended — she had one year remaining on her current deal.

“This has absolutely been one of the toughest decisions, but after much thought and discussions, I have decided to opt out of the 2020 season in Florida,” Allen said Thursday. “The uncertainty of the COVID-19 crisis and the logistical health risks related to travel have led me to conclude that it’s best if I not play in the WNBA this year.

The news comes as a disappointment after Allen was expected to have a standout season for the Liberty in 2020, and her skillset on this roster fit the Walt Hopkins “New Era” system quite well. Like her teammate and close friend Amanda Zahui B., Allen’s expected, expanded role promised more playing time than she’d previously enjoyed during her five-year WNBA career.

“Rebecca Allen showed what she can do and what we are really excited about what she can do,” Kolb told High Post Hoops back in February. “In terms of just really spreading the floor and when we talk about that three-point identity, we think Bec is poised for a breakout year with us.” On Thursday, Kolb added that “we fully support her decision to do what is best for her and her family.”

In her 2019 season with the Liberty, Allen had a breakout moment — quite literally — after breaking her hand. She had a “purple patch” in early to mid-August where she achieved career highs in points, three-pointers made, assists and blocks in a game.

Allen has told The Next that her family has joked that “breaking her hand took her shot to another level.” And they might not be wrong at this point. Allen was recently named as the MVP of the Polish league, playing for Arka Gdyniaher during offseason before COVID-19 struck. Her exponential value on the court caught the eye of Spanish Euroleague member Valencia Basket Club. Allen will have a new home if there’s a 2020-2021 Euroleague season.

What’s ahead for the Liberty?

Allen’s loss hurts. There’s absolutely no sugarcoating that. New York’s system, which was reliant upon a consistent three-ball will be without one of its “Young Vets” that has mastered the long ball.

As I have previously reported on High Post Hoops, the Liberty “New Era” model of play is highly dependent on forcing teams to guard every single position, unclogging the paint, and spreading the floor. The Liberty will look to bring on a player who can shoot the three and play defense. The same litmus test that applied to a large portion of the 2020 draft class will apply here.

I see 2020 third round draftees Stella Johnson and Lauren Manis getting some consideration to fill that 12th roster spot due to their size, and ability to shoot from deep. Manis had Allen-esk numbers in her final season at Holy Cross, shooting over 46 percent from three. Johnson is a larger guard who has a similar skill set to current Liberty rookie Jazmine Jones. While Johnson is a little smaller than Jones, she’s tenacious on defense and averaged 36 percent from three during her career at Rider.

If Kolb and Hopkins want a veteran, Kaela Davis is an option. She stands tall at 6’2 which is Allen’s exact size, and she can shoot the three. While her shot might not be as consistent as Allen’s, Davis shot it over 30 percent from three in 2019.

Expect third-year All-Star Kia Nurse to get a bulk of her minutes at the three. Nurse, who stands at six feet tall with an ability to guard multiple positions and shoot high volume three balls, will need to step up in Allen’s absence.

But, filling Allen’s role might come down to rookie Jocelyn Willoughby who I’ve pointed out numerous times has a similar skillset and disposition. (Both matter!)

Willoughby starting sounds wild, but so is 2020 as a whole. Kolb, Hopkins, Nurse and even veteran Layshia Clarendon have given Willoughby votes of confidence. She’s sharp and could be the quick study that New York needs.

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