The WNBA’s 12 All-Star Game reserves were announced Saturday, giving the Las Vegas Aces a league-best four players in the July 15 midseason showcase in Las Vegas (8:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN App).
All-Star captains A’ja Wilson of the Aces and Breanna Stewart of the New York Liberty will draft their teams first from the pool of eight remaining starters and then from 12 reserves on a selection show next Saturday (1 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App). Fan vote leader Wilson will make the first pick, and trades between the captains are allowed.
With Las Vegas’ Becky Hammon coaching Wilson’s team, the local crowd at Michelob Ultra Arena figures to have a strong rooting interest in Team Wilson. However, there’s no guarantee all four Aces all-stars will be on the same team.
Fans (50%), current players (25%) and media (25%) chose the starters, while WNBA head coaches picked the reserves. If anyone is unable to play, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert will select replacement players. The Connecticut Sun‘s Stephanie White will coach Team Stewart.
We break down the All-Star rosters and make predictions for July 15.
Alyssa Thomas banks in 5th career triple-double
Alyssa Thomas records her third a triple-double of the week, and fifth of her career.
Did fans, players and media get the All-Star Game starters right? If not, who should have gotten the nod?
Voepel: The Sun’s Alyssa Thomas has three triple-doubles this season, is the league’s career leader with five (plus two in the playoffs) and might be MVP if the vote were taken now. She’s one of the two most obvious misses as a starter (Alexa details the other below).
But as any longtime follower of sports knows, All-Star Games are ultimately a fans’ showcase; they vote for who they want to see the most, and they have 50% of the vote. Plus, you have to take into consideration which fan bases might be the most engaged in voting.
Also add in that it has to be six frontcourt players and four backcourt. This year, it was hard to miss on the four starting guards: Chelsea Gray and Jackie Young (Aces), Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm) and Arike Ogunbowale (Dallas Wings) clearly got that nod.
The six front-court players were a little harder. There were four spots left after perennial MVP candidates Wilson and Stewart were automatic choices. Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Satou Sabally (Dallas Wings) and Aliyah Boston (Indiana Fever) were the other starters picked.
The media vote deadline was the afternoon of June 20; Thomas had the first of her 2023 triple-doubles that night. That’s not to say she wasn’t All-Star starter-worthy before then, because she was. But the timing worked against her.
Ogwumike ranks in the top five and Sabally the top 10 in the league in both scoring and rebounding. Griner is in the top 10 in scoring and blocked shots. Boston is in the top 10 in rebounding and leads the league in field goal percentage. Add in the significant fan sentiment for Griner after her ordeal in Russia last year, and for Boston as a rookie who has helped revive the Fever.
Thomas and the Sun always seem to prefer and thrive on the notion that they are overlooked, so this is more fuel for that fire. At this point, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Thomas end up with a double-digit total of triple-doubles, as she and fellow All-Star reserve DeWanna Bonner lead the way in keeping the Sun near the top of the standings.
Napheesa Collier drains game-winner with 1 second to go in OT
Napheesa Collier knocks down the game-winning overtime bucket for the Lynx.
Philippou: Thomas, who is firmly in the MVP conversation, was deserving of being named an All-Star Game starter. Napheesa Collier — in her first full season back after maternity leave — similarly deserved such recognition. After their horrid 0-6 start, the Lynx went 6-4 in June behind Collier’s 25.3 points per game in that stretch and are just a half game out of a playoff spot.
The frontcourt depth in this league is absurd, but when you take into account Collier’s efficiency, how she impacts the game in so many different ways and how much less help she has around her, there are few players doing what she has done so far this season, especially as of late.
Who got snubbed? Who should have been an All-Star but wasn’t named a starter/reserve?
Philippou: There aren’t really any obvious, glaring snubs, at least compared to last year. You could make cases for players like the Los Angeles Sparks’ Jordin Canada, who’s having a career year with a larger role on the Sparks, or the Atlanta Dream‘s Rhyne Howard, who is still showing why she went No. 1 in last year’s draft.
There are only four teams above .500, and yet the Washington Mystics are the only squad among them without multiple All-Stars — perhaps their balance outside of Elena Delle Donne works against them (as well as not completely meeting lofty preseason expectations). But the likes of Brittney Sykes and Shakira Austin have been such meaningful additions since their 2019 championship run.
Elena Delle Donne helped off court after apparent ankle injury
Elena Delle Donne leaves the game with 15.6 seconds left after an appearing to injure her ankle on defense.
And while she wasn’t snubbed by voters but rather the basketball gods, the Sun’s Brionna Jones was deserving of being named an All-Star for the third consecutive season before going down with a season-ending Achilles tear last week.
Voepel: Agree with Alexa: There is nobody who makes you scream, “SNUB!” However, Natasha Howard, who is part of Dallas’ “Big Three” now with Ogunbowale and Sabally, and NaLyssa Smith (Fever), who is doing the same for Indiana with Boston and Kelsey Mitchell, are the two players who stand out most to me.
Which first-time All-Star are you most excited to see in action?
Philippou: Kelsey Mitchell and Allisha Gray could have been All-Stars last year, so seeing them finally get that recognition is a joy for fans. Gray, in particular, has come into her own during her first season in Atlanta following an offseason trade from Dallas. Her 18.3 points per game (on 48.1% shooting) are team and career highs, and she has a great feel for stepping up down the stretch when her team needs it. She could be in for a big moment in La Vegas, and a big second half of the season for the playoff-minded Dream.
Voepel: Mitchell. In terms of losses piling up and difficulty seeing light at the end of the tunnel, no player has had to deal with that more than Mitchell in the last five years with the Fever. The 2022 season, when Indiana lost its last 18 games in a row, was especially disheartening.
But the addition of draft picks Smith (No. 2 in 2022) and Boston (No. 1 in 2023) and new coach Christie Sides has given the Fever and Mitchell a lift. Now in her sixth WNBA season, Mitchell has a well-deserved All-Star nod and might even get her first playoff experience.
It will also be nice to see Seattle forward Ezi Magbegor as an All-Star. In her fourth WNBA season, she’s just 23 and has stepped into the bigger role the Storm needed with the departure of Stewart. We are just starting to see Magbegor come into her own.
Jewell Loyd makes a sweet move for a bucket
Jewell Loyd goes behind the back and scoops in a basket to cap off the first half.
Who’s your prediction for All-Star Game MVP?
Philippou: As she leads a new-look Storm into a post-Sue Bird and Stewart era, Loyd already has a 40-point game this season and could be primed for a breakout showing on the All-Star stage a la Ogunbowale and Kelsey Plum from the 2021 and 2022 event, respectively. Or maybe Alyssa Thomas will earn the award after recording yet another triple-double this summer.
Voepel: If the captains conspire to allow each other to select all their WNBA teammates — Gray, Young, Plum to Team Wilson, and Sabrina Ionescu and Courtney Vandersloot to Team Stewart — the “superteam” narrative will carry over to All-Star, understandably irritating the rest of the players. But also perhaps making one of them even more determined to be MVP.
Eight WNBA All-Star Games have been played in the last decade — 2016 (Olympics) and 2020 (pandemic) were the exceptions — and Candace Parker (2013) was the last true post player to win ASG MVP. The past three winners were guards (Plum, Ogunbowale, Erica Wheeler); wing Maya Moore won three in a row before that, and guard Shoni Schimmel won in 2014. So maybe it’s time for a post player to win again? If so, Thomas could be the one, or maybe the rookie Boston steals the show.
WNBA All-Star Game 2023: Roster snubs, surprises, predictions