Introducing your 2019 WNBA All-Stars: Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Seimone Augustus, Candace Parker, Angel McCoughtry and …
Early returns suggests this will not be the case, but it could have been.
Should players, including some of the league’s most notable stars, who have been forced to sit out all or most of the 2019 season be eligible for he 2019 WNBA All-Star Game? For all they have accomplished in their careers, do Candace Parker and Diana Taurasi deserve an All-Star honor? Parker, who has received the sixth-most votes, has only played five games. Still having yet to make her 2019 debut, Taurasi is 20th in the early voting returns.
Shouldn’t All-Star selections assuredly belong to players who thus far have performed the best?
The history of the WNBA All-Star Game suggests that this has not been so. Last season, First Team All-WNBA selection Tiffany Hayes did not earn an All-Star berth. Neither did 2018 Most Improved Player (and 2019 MVP candidate) Natasha Howard. Nor Courtney Vandersloot, who broke the single-season assists record.
For better or worse, All-Star nods traditionally have served as automatic honors for the league’s most popular players. In 1999, for the league’s inaugural All-Star Game, Rebecca Lobo was voted as a starter, even though she had not played in more than a season and a half, having injured her knee prior to the 1998 and 1999 seasons.
So, go ahead and stan for legends like Sue or Money Mone! Or have fun by voting for favorite rookies such as Napheesa Collier, who, in receiving the ninth-most votes so far, seems be following in the footsteps of Lobo by getting that UConn love.
However, if you are looking for someone who might deserve a trip to Vegas, consider casting a vote for one of these under-the-radar All-Star worthy performers before voting closes on Tuesday, July 9 at 2 p.m. ET.
Dearica Hamby, Las Vegas Aces
Yes, the pair of Liz Cambage and A’ja Wilson likely will serve as hosts for the weekend in Vegas. Possibly, the All-Star duo should in fact be an All-Star trio? Dearica Hamby has established herself as integral to the Aces’ success, a super sixth woman. Hamby does the dirty work desired by Coach Bill Laimbeer. Her player impact estimate of 19.0, sixth in the league, testifies to the importance of her intensity and aggression. She efficiently takes advantage of her opportunities, registering a top-five field goal percentage of 55.4 percent. Hamby also initiates opportunities for her team, with her team-best defensive rebounding percentage allowing Vegas to get out on the break.
Leilani Mitchell, Phoenix Mercury
From training camp cut to All-Star? Aiming to make space for younger players, the Mercury waived Mitchell in May. Since returning to Phoenix, she has not only secured a starting spot, but should also earn All-Star consideration. Mitchell has provided a much-needed shooting spark from the guard position, currently sitting in the top ten in both true shooting percentage and effective field goal percentage due to shooting 45.7 percent from three on 5.8 attempts per game. She also creates scoring chances for Brittney Griner and DeWanna Bonner (two certain All-Stars), evidenced by her assist percentage of 31.1 percent and assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.63.
Alysha Clark, Seattle Storm
As bad luck continues to rain on Seattle, Clark has served as a stabilizing force for the defending-champion Storm. She is the ultimate All-Star in her role. Clark currently sports a three point mark of 53.3 percent on almost three attempts per game. Her ability to hit dagger shots is matched by her defensive consistency. Her .209 defensive wins shares are second only to teammate Natasha Howard (who, without question, should be an All-Star this season).
Shekinna Stricklen, Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut starting five all deserve All-Star consideration, including Stricklen. A sturdy defender who can quickly and frequently launch threes, she is a prototype for a modern WNBA player. Stricklen is the skeleton key for the Sun offense. With 6.5 three-point attempts per game, 78 percent of her points come from behind the arc, thus providing efficient shot making as well as valuable floor spacing for the Sun. And even if she doesn’t make the All-Star squad, she certainly should be present at All-Star Weekend, as Stricklen might be the favorite to steal the Three-Point Contest crown from Allie Quigley.
Erica Wheeler, Indiana Fever
Although they still sit eleventh in the standings, the Indiana Fever have almost matched their win total from last season. The improved Erica Wheeler, who has the best plus-minus and net rating of the Fever’s higher-minute players, deserves credit for the team’s positive trajectory. The fifth-year guard who was undrafted out of Rutgers is becoming known for her play as much as for her kicks. She is attempting more shots than last season, including from three-point range, but still is shooting a much higher percentage, overall and from three. Wheeler also succeeds in getting teammates involved, tossing almost six assists per game.
Don’t forget to vote every day until next Tuesday, and stay tuned for the reveal of the captains and starters on Thursday, July 11!