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  • Writer's pictureJess Simpson

WNBA All-Star Game Preview

The 2022 WNBA All-Star Weekend is upon us! After last year’s format of Team WNBA vs Team USA (used to promote the Olympics), the league returned to the format of captain’s drafting, with A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart appointed captains after receiving the most fan votes.

A'ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart bite into gold medals while holding gifts from Tokyo 2020 Olympics medal ceremony. Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Eric Gay

Team Wilson will be co-captained by Slyvia Fowles, with Sue Bird taking up that spot for Team Stewart. The co-captains were originally playing for the opposite teams, but due to Bird being Stewart’s teammate on the Seattle Storm, the captains agreed to a trade. For Wilson and Stewart, this will be their fourth All-Star selection, with Fowles starting in her eighth and Bird starting in her thirteenth.

Filling out Team Wilson is New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, Chicago Sky’s Candace Parker, and Las Vegas Aces’ Kelsey Plum. For Team Stewart, Connecticut Sun’s Jonquel Jones, LA Sparks’ Nneka Ogwumike and Las Vegas Aces’ Jackie Young round out the starting five. Brittney Griner has also been named as an honorary starter for the game.

Partaking in the 3-point contest will be reigning champion Allie Quigley, as well as Kelsey Plum, Ariel Atkins, Arike Ogunbowale, Jewell Lloyd, and rookie Rhyne Howard. Based on current form, Kelsey Plum would have the best chance of winning the competition, shooting 40.2% of long-range jumpers this season; Lloyd is currently shooting 38.7% on the season, with Ogunbowale shooting 37.2%. However, Allie Quigley can never be ruled out in this competition, appearing for the fifth time, and holding three titles.

Allie Quigley of the Chicago Sky holds up 3-point contest trophy after winning her third title in July of 2021. Photo courtesy of ESPN

Two major omissions from the three-point contest are Marine Johannes of the New York Liberty and Lexie Brown of the Los Angeles Sparks. Despite only joining the team in June, in her 10 games played with the Liberty, Johannes is averaging 2.7 threes a game, shooting 44.3%. Lexie Brown is knocking down threes at a percentage of 45.9, 7% higher than her previous highest percentage.

As for the game itself, the most noticeable player missing is Diana Taurasi. The 10-time All-Star will miss out on this year's competition, despite her averaging 16.3 points, three rebounds, and 4.1 assists in 30.7 minutes per game. Phoenix Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard said “Diana Taurasi is not an all-star? I don’t know, is there an all-star game without Diana Taurasi being an all-star?” It’s hard to disagree with the idea that Diana Taurasi is an all-star player, but for this particular game, there is not a player on the roster that could be removed to make a place for Taurasi.

Other shock omissions include Mystics duo Natasha Cloud and Elena Delle Donne, Fever guard Kelsey Mitchell, and Tina Charles, who recently moved to the Seattle Storm. In fact, the Indiana Fever are the only team in the league to not have a player included in the All-Star game. (The teams with the most selections were the Las Vegas Aces and the Chicago Sky, with four selections each.) Natasha Cloud spoke about missing out on the game in a post-game press conference following the release of the roster, saying “I’m going to show up and I’m going to do my job every single night, regardless [of] if people respect me or not. I just think people don’t respect that I impact the full stat sheet.”

Washington Mystic's #9, Natasha Cloud, dribbles up the court in 2021 game against the Minnesota Lynx. Photo courtesy of Sky Sports

“I thought this was my year, and it’s all politics,” she continued. “At some point, you have to advocate for yourself, so that’s what I’ve been doing all season long.”

All-Star Weekend will be hosted at Wintrust Arena, home to the Chicago Sky, with the main game airing on ABC at 1 pm EST on Sunday, July 10. While the All-Star game will be the weekend’s main feature, the 3-point contest and skills contest will take place on Saturday, July 9 at 3 pm EST, airing on ESPN.

Here are the full teams for this weekend's WNBA All-Star Game. (Bold denotes starters)

Team Wilson:

A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces)

Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx)

Sabrina Ionescu (New York Liberty)

Candace Parker (Chicago Sky)

Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces)

Ariel Atkins (Washington Mystics)

Dearica Hamby (Las Vegas Aces)

Natasha Howard (New York Liberty)

Rhyne Howard (Atlanta Dream)

Brionna Jones (Connecticut Sun)

Courtney Vandersloot (Chicago Sky)

Team Stewart:

Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm)

Sue Bird (Seattle Storm)

Jonquel Jones (Connecticut Sun)

Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks)

Jackie Young (Las Vegas Aces)

Kahleah Copper (Chicago Sky)

Skylar Diggins-Smith (Phoenix Mercury)

Jewell Lloyd (Seattle Storm)

Emma Meesseman (Chicago Sky)

Arike Ogunbowale (Dallas Wing)

Alyssa Thomas (Connecticut Sun)


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