19/04/2024

Liz Cambage is an unrestricted free agent. Photo: @LVAces Twitter

Liz Cambage and Rebecca Allen are two Australians who are entering the 2022 WNBA Free Agency on the 15th of January.

WNBA free agency officially starts on January 15th – this is when clubs can approach free agents and start negotiating. It may be the biggest free agency in history with some of the all time greats on the list including, Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd and 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones, most of whom are expected to re-sign with their 2021 clubs. 

The Inner Sanctum will be paying close attention to two free agents in particular – Aussie duo Liz Cambage and Rebecca Allen, who have both been ranked highly this free agency period.

Cambage – who is undeniably one of the best bigs in the world – averaged 14 points and 8 boards in the WNBA last year. New Aces coach Becky Hammon has spent the past 7 years in the NBA as an assistant coach at the Spurs and will no doubt be keen to keep the star Centre. 

Cambage plays her best on the edge, full of energy and passion. She’s hard to stop when she’s getting the ball in deep and if you foul her she averages over 70% from the foul line. She has a solid mid-range game and has perfected the turn around jumper over smaller opponents. 

It would be great to see Cambage improve her assists per game (currently averaging just over 1 a game), however that statistic is probably more to do with the style of play rather than Cambage’s decision making. 

At 6’8″, Cambage is naturally a good rim protector, rebounder and she runs the floor well for her size. The second overall pick in the 2011 draft has the current WNBA single-game scoring record with 53 points against Liberty in 2018. She’s also a four-time WNBA All-Star, two of which she achieved in her last two seasons. 

Although Cambage is a free agent, the Aces have the ability to offer her a ‘core qualifying offer’. The terms of the core qualifying offer are a fully guaranteed, one-year contract with a base salary equal to the super max (US$228,094). Once the core qualifying offer has been extended, the player (Cambage) may not sign a contract directly with any other team, which would take her off the market. Each team can offer one player a core qualifying offer. 

There’s no questioning Cambage’s value in the league, but will the Aces want to offer her the super-max core offer or will they allow her to test the open market?

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Bec Allen averaged 9.2 points a game for the Liberty in 2021, which was a career high.  Traditionally a role player off the bench in the WNBA, Allen’s ability to defend against other long wings saw her start 13 games last year for New York, averaging 24 mins a game. 

A ‘3 and D’ (3-point specialist and defender) player are hot commodities in most teams and although she doesn’t light up the stat sheet, she would be a valuable asset. Allen may not receive the same attention in free agency as the big names previously mentioned, but her length, shooting ability and defence will make her a target.

From an outsiders point of view it makes most sense for Allen to stay at the Liberty and be coached by incoming Opals head coach Sandy Brondello, but we know it’s not that simple.

Liberty don’t have many roster spots and Allen’s length and shooting ability is sure to attract interest from other clubs. A team that has significant inside presence such as the Phoenix (Brittany Griner) or Aces (Liz Cambage – if she re-signs) would be a welcome landing spot for Allen who could make most of her 3-point shooting. 

https://twitter.com/nyliberty/status/1406762017415958528?s=20

Although it’s not known where Cambage and Allen will land in free agency, we can be certain that both players will receive a lot of interest and have a significant impact on the 2022 WNBA season. 

Other Australian Free Agents

Leilani Mitchell: 12 year pro – The 36-year-old veteran point guard played for Washington in 2021. Averaging 6.4 points and 2.5 assists per game, it is unknown whether Mitchell will return to the WNBA. She is a mum of 1 and expecting another. Mitchell currently plays for Bendigo in the WNBL.

Stephanie Talbot: 6’2 forward – last season averaged just under 18 mins a game for Seattle. Talbot had career best statistics in points (5.7 per game), rebounds (2.9) and shot the 3 at 41%. With a strong season in the WNBL for Adelaide, we would expect Talbot to be picked up. 

Alanna Smith: Talbot’s team-mate in Adelaide – has played the last 3 seasons with the Mercury under Opals coach Sandy Brondello. Used sparingly off the bench she averaged just 6.5 mins per game. She’s had a great start to the WNBL season and if she keeps up her strong numbers, she should surely gain some attention from WNBA teams.

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