2016 is the WNBA's 20th season, and there has been much publicity about it. But with this year being an Olympic season, there is also no All-Star Game which I find quite a shame. It's like saying that this year doesn't count. Why can't the league at least name a team, even if there is no game?
To that end, we decided to take a stab at who we'd want in our All-Star teams and at least unofficially give players the honor.
Forming our All-Star teams
Elle, L.W., Mitch and I decided to create our own All-Star teams for each conference. Here's how.
- Five starters (two backcourt, three frontcourt)
- Seven reservers (two backcourt, three frontcourt, two wildcard players regardless of position)
- If a player (starter or reserve is injured and can't play, then we'll have an injury replacement, or an IR player. That player can be any position.
As a general rule, we were to pick the teams we believed would be made up of the 12 best players in each conference. I mean, we can't select a lineup of five 12th men and be taken seriously, right?
So without further ado, let's start with the Eastern Conference!
The Eastern Conference All-Stars
The Mystics are in the East, so we'll start with the Eastern Conference. Here are our lineups
|Position||Albert L.||Elle Ward||L.W.||Mitchell Northam|
|Backcourt||Sugar Rodgers, Liberty||Courtney Vandersloot, Sky||Sugar Rodgers, Liberty||Sugar Rodgers, Liberty|
|Backcourt||Tiffany Hayes, Dream||Tiffany Hayes, Dream||Tayler Hill, Mystics||Allie Quigley, Sky|
|Frontcourt||Tina Charles, Liberty||Tina Charles, Liberty||Tina Charles, Liberty||Tina Charles, Liberty|
|Frontcourt||Elena Delle Donne, Sky||Elena Delle Donne, Sky||Elena Delle Donne, Sky||Elena Delle Donne, Sky|
|Frontcourt||Emma Meesseman, Mystics||Emma Meesseman, Mystics||Angel McCoughtry, Dream||Emma Meesseman, Mystics|
|BC Reserve||Tayler Hill, Mystics||Tayler Hill, Mystics||Alex Bentley, Sun||Alex Bentley, Sun|
|BC Reserve||Layshia Clarendon, Dream||Sugar Rodgers, Liberty||Tiffany Hayes, Dream||Tiffany Hayes, Dream|
|FC Reserve||Angel McCoughtry, Dream||Sancho Lyttle, Dream||Emma Meesseman, Mystics||Angel McCoughtry, Dream|
|FC Reserve||Tamika Catchings, Fever||Carolyn Swords, Liberty||Tamika Catchings, Fever||Sancho Lyttle, Dream|
|FC Reserve||Elizabeth Williams, Dream||Kahleah Copper, Mystics||Elizabeth Williams, Dream||Elizabeth Williams, Dream|
|Wildcard||Allie Quigley, Sky||Allie Quigley, Sky||Cappie Pondexter, Sky||Courtney Vandersloot, Sky|
|Wildcard||Sancho Lyttle, Dream||Alex Bentley, Sun||Sancho Lyttle, Dream||Tayler Hill, Mystics|
Congratulations to these players who were starting on ALL of our ballots!
Tina Charles, Liberty - She's always had a bit of an efficiency problem, but her usage is extremely high and she's once again carrying the Liberty. Also, something to watch out for: Her assist numbers have been crazy high this year, especially for a center. She's averaging 4 a game and is already just 4 shy of her career high for a season.
Elena Delle Donne, Sky - Delle Donne is a shoo in to start the game. She is among the league leaders in scoring, and shoots at an efficient rate. In addition, she also leads Chicago in rebounds, blocks, and maintains a positive assist to turnover ratio, which doesn't always happen with frontcourt players
Other Unanimous Picks
These players were all unanimous picks, but not everyone was voted as a starter
Emma Meesseman, Mystics (3 starting votes, 1 reserve vote) - You'd be shocked to find out that Meesseman isn't a unanimous starter. L.W. dissented, so here's her response.
"I chose Angel McCoughtry to start over Meesseman. Though McCoughtry is less efficient, she still carries her team when they need carrying. Meesseman has been fantastic this year, but the Mystics lean on her a lot less than the Dream lean on McCoughtry. One could certainly make the case that Angel "chucks" too much, but honestly I wish Emma "chucked" a little more."
Meesseman lacks the mentality to "chuck" the basketball and will to "carry the Mystics to a win" unlike most of the players who we labeled as unanimous starters. That and her relatively low popularity throughout the league would make it pretty close to impossible for her to start in real life.
Unless we see a Shoni Schimmel-effect with Flemish and Dutch people, I just don't seeing Meesseman starting in any All-Star game barring her winning the WNBA MVP award. But we go back to the issue about Meesseman's traits. MVP's also have traits that Meesseman lacks in order to win games and put herself in that conversation.
Either way, the rest of us put Meesseman in the starting lineup. If nothing else, we'll use the homer card.
#dcRising #IeperRepresent #NoItIsNOTYpres #KomaanEmmaWinMVP
- Albert and L.W.
Sugar Rodgers, Liberty (3 starting votes, 1 reserve vote) - Rodgers is also having a breakout year, and is Hill's main competition for MIP. She's not nearly as good as getting to the rim as Hill, but her turnover percentage and defense are both better.
Tiffany Hayes, Dream (2 starting votes, 2 reserve votes) - Hayes is enjoying career highs in scoring and is making a living at the foul line. Sure, I had fun with the Bria Hartley highlight reel, but let's be honest. Hayes is better than Hartley, first of all, but I still believe that should have been an All-Star injury replacement in 2014 over Ivory Latta.
Tayler Hill, Mystics (1 starting vote, 3 reserve votes) - A little bit of a homer pick? Maybe, but Tayler Hill has broken out this year. She is second in the league in both free throws attempted and made, seventh in three pointers made, and 8th in points per game
Sancho Lyttle, Dream (4 reserve votes) - Lyttle produces in a variety of areas and leads the WNBA in steals per game. But it's a shame that she's only been an All-Star once so far. Though she'll have to wait at least one more year before the next All-Star Game, hopefully this nod is an acknowledgement of what she's done this season.
Consensus All-Star picks
Three of the four of us voted these players in. Remember consensus is not the same thing as unanimity!
Angel McCoughtry, Dream - L.W. selected her in the starting frontcourt over Meesseman, which is what would have probably happened if we had an All-Star Game this year. Mitch and I had her as a reserve, but for what it's worth, if Meesseman wasn't on the Mystics, she'd be starting.
In a surprise move, Elle left McCoughtry out, pointing out her "chuck it up" mentality and her effective field goal percentage at 43.3 percent, well below Meesseman's eFG rate of 57.7 percent.
Allie Quigley, Sky - A quick look at the usage percentage numbers say that Quigley is at the top for East guards with 25.8. The only East guard ahead of her there is Angel McCoughtry at 30.1, but some consider her as a forward. While Quigley might not put up the flashy numbers every night, she's very important to Chicago's winning formula with her ability to pass, shoot and defend at a high level. Speaking of numbers, she's scored a combined 50 points over her last two outings. The reigning Sixth Woman of the Year deserves a start in this make-believe All-Star game.
Elizabeth Williams, Dream - Williams is averaging 12.5 points and 7.2 rebounds in a starting role this season. Last season, she averaged just 3.3 points in a bench role. To be honest, she could very well be the Most Improved Candidate this year for that alone.
Alex Bentley, Sun - Bentley is leading Connecticut in scoring this year during another down year. Without her, there wouldn't be much for Sun fans to root for.
A House Divided
Two writers voted these players:
Tamika Catchings, Fever - Catchings shot at a career low rate of 38.2 percent last season and bumped it up go 45.2 percent this season. That is her second best season in that regard. In addition, Catchings still averages close to two steals a game and will retire this season at the age of 37. Without her on the Fever, this team would likely be struggling big time.
Courtney Vandersloot, Sky - I didn't vote her in and don't think she should be on the team. But I understand the pick. Vandersloot has been very efficient passing the rock, where her assist percentage is above 30 percent this season, and here assist to turnover ratio is nearly 3 to 1.
Sometimes, one person selects someone who no one else did. I'll let them explain here. This is also where you get to see our biases come into play when formulating a team.
Kahleah Copper, Mystics - Copper would make a solid wing defender and she's also on the USA Select Team. She doesn't have the scoring numbers of others, but defense counts, and I think she'll fit better on this team than adding more inefficient volume scorers.
Carolyn Swords, Liberty - Like I said with Copper, you can't just look at simple scoring numbers. Swords is a better rebounder (22.7 percent rebounding percentage) than people give her credit for. With the other starters and reserves on my team, I feel she's the best fit.
Cappie Pondexter, Sky - The Sky is Delle Donne's team, but every frontcourt player still needs a good backcourt option. Pondexter isn't scoring at the rates she did in her early years, but no one else is able to carry the team like she can if it came down to it.
Layshia Clarendon, Dream - I was mildly disappointed that the Mystics didn't find a way to bring her in 2013 because she had the potential to be a good guard AND she could also live in the same Northern Virginia neighborhood that has her last name!
But in Indiana, Clarendon was never going to get a full opportunity to start at point guard in Indiana as long as Briann January was there. She was ultimately traded to Atlanta where she's enjoying career highs in scoring, and is also enjoying a career-high in FTr (.469) AND free throw efficiency (81.3 percent). Even Clarendon's three point game is also starting to come along, and she wasn't exactly that way when she was a college star at Cal.
So, that's a lot of players and I hope you enjoyed our rationales as to why we went one way or another.
There are some players who you can make a case for over the players we named on our teams.
Kiah Stokes, Liberty - Though Swords starts games, for New York, Stokes plays more minutes.
Jamierra Faulkner, Sky - The Sky have a two point guard machine. Vandersloot's one, and Faulkner's the other. Though Vandersloot is more efficient, Faulkner also dishes more assists In fact, she dished 8.7 assists every 36 minutes. Crazy!
Briann January, Fever - Indy's starting point guard averages just a tad under 10 points and dishes 4.5 assists per game. She's also one of the WNBA's best perimeter defenders.
Where's your Western Conference All-Star team?
All stats are for games through July 11, 2016