In the days leading up to the New Year, WNBA.com is reliving the best of the league’s landmark 20th season in its 20 Moments of 2016 — series. Check back each day from now until December 31 for more!
20 MOMENTS: WNBA Draft | Breanna Stewart’s Debut | Wings’ First Game in Dallas | Mystics-Sun Triple-OT | Lynx-Sparks Round 1 | WNBA Top 20@20 | Taurasi’s 7,000th Point | Hammon’s Jersey Retired | Jackson’s Jersey Retired | EDD vs. Stewie Duel | Olympians Capture Gold | Swin Cash Night | Pondexter Moves to No. 5 in Scoring | So Long, Penny | Stars Celebrate Duo | Tamika’s Farewell | Angel’s Playoff Showcase | Ogwumike Named MVP | Beard’s Finals Buzzer-Beater | An Epic Finale
Touted as the WNBA’s Next Big Thing — the latest superstar-to-be to come out of college, following in the footsteps of a long history of franchise-changing No. 1 draft picks — Breanna Stewart entered her rookie season with lofty expectations, to say the least.
She showed immediately that she could meet, or even exceed them, scoring 23 points against Candace Parker and the Sparks in Los Angeles.
More significant than the debut itself was what happened after the debut. In fact, a consummate winner like Stewart would consider it a disappointing opening game, as the young Storm’s lost by 30 points to the eventual champions.
But even in defeat, the rookie’s performance was a sign of things to come.
— WNBA (@WNBA) May 15, 2016
Her stat line of 23 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block would pale in comparison to the stat sheet-stuffing she would do as the year progressed.
Four and a half months later, Stewart would be announced as the near-unanimous Rookie of the Year after posting season averages of 18.3 points, 9.3 rebounds 3.4 assists, 1.8 blocks, 1.2 steals and 1.3 three-pointers. She finished ranked in the Top 20 in each of those categories.