Biggest Surprises and Disrespects in the 2022 WNBA All-Star Game Lists
The 22-player roster is set for the 2022 WNBA All-Star Game, as the game’s 12 reserve players — selected by the league’s coaches — were announced Tuesday.
The two teams — led by Captains Aja Wilson and Brenna Stewart, and co-captains Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles — will draft their pool rosters on Saturday (3 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN app). Wilson and Stewart were named captains after receiving the most fan votes. The WNBA named Bird and Fowls, who announced their retirement at the end of the 2022 season, alongside them.
They will be joined by Skylar Diggins-Smith, Courtney Vandersloot and Jewell Loyd, a group of All-Stars for the second time and one for the first time, Atlanta Dream rookie Rhyne Howard, the first pick of the year.
ESPN’s Michel Voibel, Alexa Filippo, and Kevin Bilton – all of whom were media elect All-Stars – share their thoughts on the biggest players who should be rookies and the 22-plus players selected. The 2022 WNBA All-Star Game premieres July 10 (1 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN app)
What is the biggest all-star exclusion, and who will replace him on the current roster?
Michel Voebel: Indiana Fever guard Kelsey Mitchell (19.2 PPG) is the only player among the current top eight scorers in the WNBA not on the list. It’s currently ranked 4th in PPG, tied for 12th in APG (4.1) and shooting 40.2% from a 3-point range. If those numbers hold up all season, she will be the best of her five-year WNBA career.
Mitchell plays last in Fever, and it’s hard to make a case for her over other reserve guards for reasons not related to whether Mitchell is good enough to be an All-Star. she is. But as Andscape’s Sean Hurd wrote recently, she chose to continue her course in Indiana and try to rebuild the franchise. If it costs her some honors now, she hopes the payoff is completing the job.
Alexa Filippo: I thought Alicia Gray had a great case for earning the All-Star spot. The six-year-old veteran has a career best season, averaging 14.5 points and 5.6 rebounds to go along with her usual solid defense. Its accuracy of 43.0% from 3 attempts (5.2 attempts per game) is second in the league among players who have attempted at least three times per game, behind only Jackie Young.
Furthermore, the advanced stats show their worth for the Dallas Wings: They tied for fifth in the league with 3.0 shares to win per Her Hoop Stats, and Dallas outperformed their opponents by 14.9 points per 100 possessions with them on the floor (second highest mark) in the team that Standing behind Tierra McEwan). Both numbers are marginally better than teammate and reserve All-Star Arike Ogunbowale (2.3, 10.5).
Kevin BiltonBy: Elena Delle Donne. I voted for Daily Dawn as one of my starters, so I was shocked that she wasn’t chosen by the coaches. Yes, she was not one of the 10 most valuable players in the league this season due to the number of games she missed due to a minor injury and the planned rest. But when I played, Delle Donne was as good as anyone outside of the MVP nominees (it ranked sixth in my wins above the substitute player scale on a per-game basis). And the last time she was healthy before that, she was the top player and led the Washington Mystics to the title. As long as she’s healthy, Delle Donne is always the all-star in my book.
What is the biggest surprise in the all-star lists?
Filippo: I am always fascinated by seeing the discrepancies between how fans, media, players and coaches vote. Diggins-Smith, Candace Parker, and Delle Donne had far fewer players than fans and the media. Meanwhile, Ogunbowale, Mitchell and Jonquel Jones had fewer fans than the media and players. Mitchell, Tina Charles and Deeley Donne were in the top ten in the three groups vote for their positions – but none of them got the coaches’ approval.
As for what is supposed to be a showcase of league talent, does it seem appropriate that one of the twelve teams not be represented, especially when two teams make up more than a third of the selections – and when in fact does that not force the inclusion of a player from that elite team (i.e. Mitchell)? This renews the old debate about what all-stars should make up (especially compared to All-WNBA teams, for example). But perhaps the fan vote should be taken into account when choosing reserves as well as beginners.
Pelton: Diana Taurasi did not succeed. In terms of subject matter, this could have gone either way. I didn’t have her on my All-Star list when we picked her up on the HerHoopStats podcast last week. However, this is Diana Torassi, the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer. The only time she qualified for the All-Star Game and was not selected was in 2019, when she played only six matches due to injury.
Voepel: The league may wish to have a conversation with the federation about the players’ vote. While there are players who do their due diligence to fill out their ballot papers, others do not, and may only list their teammates. Players are included in the voting board because they obviously know the names of the people whose names always appear in scout reports, who have the hardest time guarding or scoring against, etc. But not taking the vote seriously negates their experience. Some do not vote at all.
However, there was nothing really spectacular on the shortlist, although somewhat surprisingly the coaches didn’t pick Delle Donne or Torassy – if not both. Because at their best they are still elite. A fan vote will likely be included in the reserves.
What reserve should have been a start?
Pelton: Diggins Smith. It’s been a disappointing season for Mercury, but I’m still in shock that Diggins-Smith ranked 14th among the guards in the players’ vote, making it an below average starter. We’re talking about one of the most accomplished point guards in WNBA history, and it’s not like we have no proof that she could help her team win: Diggins-Smith led Phoenix to the Finals just nine months ago.
Voepel: Diggins Smith. She is way above the 14th goalkeeper in the league and everyone knows that. It really showed that something was shaky about player voting – including voter turnout, if you will.
Filippo: Emma Messiman has been a huge factor in the success of Chicago’s regular season this summer, but if you’re looking to start with just one player in Chicago, I don’t hate Candice Parker getting the nod before her — especially since this could be Parker. Last season in the WNBA.
I also think Sun’s Brionna Jones is still undervalued in this league, even after winning MVP last season and looking to lock in a potential Woman of the Year in 2022. To Breanna Stewart.
What was the first time you liked all-stars this season?
Pelton: Kelsey Plum, only because I expected Sabrina Ionescu to eventually reach that level of play. In Bloom’s case, it’s even more surprising that we’ve reached new heights two years after a serious Achilles tendon injury. For the Aces, Plum’s transfer from the bench to the starting lineup continued to unleash the scoring ability that made her the NCAA’s scoring leader who knocked out Washington number one in 2017.
Voepel: We thought Ionescu’s #1 pick for 2020 could be an all-star talent right away. But after losing most of her rookie year to a serious ankle injury, she’s now really on her way. Candace Parker recently cited Ionescu, the college triple-double leader in Oregon, as an example of a player who can make triple-doubles in the WNBA seem almost routine. Ionescu has tripled this year and has been close by three more times. It is very likely that she will have more before the season ends.
Filippo: every one of them. But if I had to talk about just one, I’d highlight Rhyne Howard, the only rookie on the team. Although she and Atlanta Dream have calmed down a bit in recent weeks, her 16.2 points (the top 15 in the league) on 37.3% shots from 3, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per contest reflects how strong the first season was. In 2022. One was selected.
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