Earlier, we shared you our 2016 Eastern Conference All-Star Teams for a hypothetical game this year between the conferences. Now, we will share you our Western Conference teams. Who do Emma Meesseman and Tayler Hill have to face?
The Western Conference All-Stars
If we spent all that amount of time debating whether Meesseman should start in an All-Star Game, alright, let's do the Western Conference.
|Position||Albert L.||Elle Ward||L.W.||Mitchell Northam|
|Backcourt||Sue Bird, Storm||Kristi Toliver, Sparks||Kristi Toliver, Sparks||Sue Bird, Storm|
|Backcourt||Diana Taurasi, Mercury||Diana Taurasi, Mercury||Diana Taurasi, Mercury||Diana Taurasi, Mercury|
|Frontcourt||Breanna Stewart, Storm||Sylvia Fowles, Lynx||Sylvia Fowles, Lynx||Breanna Stewart, Storm|
|Frontcourt||Maya Moore, Lynx||Maya Moore, Lynx||Maya Moore, Lynx||Maya Moore, Lynx|
|Frontcourt||Candace Parker, Sparks||Nneka Ogwumike, Sparks||Nneka Ogwumike, Sparks||Nneka Ogwumike, Sparks|
|BC Reserve||Jewell Loyd, Storm||Jewell Loyd, Storm||Jewell Loyd, Storm||Jewell Loyd, Storm|
|BC Reserve||Kristi Toliver, Sparks||Moriah Jefferson, Stars||Moriah Jefferson, Stars||Kristi Toliver, Sparks|
|FC Reserve||Brittney Griner, Mercury||Breanna Stewart, Storm||Breanna Stewart, Storm||Brittney Griner, Mercury|
|FC Reserve||Sylvia Fowles, Lynx||DeWanna Bonner, Mercury||Penny Taylor, Mercury||Sylvia Fowles, Lynx|
|FC Reserve||Nneka Ogwumike, Sparks||Candace Parker, Sparks||Candace Parker, Sparks||Candace Parker, Sparks|
|Wildcard||DeWanna Bonner, Mercury||Courtney Paris, Wings||Sue Bird, Storm||Glory Johnson, Wings|
|Wildcard||Kayla McBride, Stars*||Glory Johnson, Wings||Kayla McBride, Stars*||Kayla McBride, Stars*|
|IR**||Glory Johnson, Wings||DeWanna Bonner, Mercury||DeWanna Bonner, Mercury|
*Would not be able to play in the game due to a season-ending injury
**Injury replacement for Kayla McBride
Albert wrote all player notes unless noted.
Two of our unanimous picks were starting in our ballots. So let's get to them first.
Maya Moore, Lynx - The Lynx remain one of the WNBA's best teams and Moore is the glue who carries them night in and night out. She is the only WNBA player who is averaging 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. These numbers could improve in future seasons as core players enter the twilight of their careers.
Diana Taurasi, Mercury - After taking 2015 off to recharge her batteries, Taurasi remains one of the WNBA's best perimeter scorers. In fact, she is second in three-pointers made, just behind Sugar Rodgers. You may like her emotional intensity or consider a whiner. But no one can deny that Taurasi is still one of the best point guards and scorers in the WNBA.
Most of our lineups actually synced up -- perhaps because the starpower out West is more defined. But here are the picks:
Nneka Ogwumike, Sparks (3 starting votes, 1 reserve vote) - Ogwumike's my current MVP front runner. A frequently underrated player who has always brought toughness and consistency to a Sparks team that desperately needed that, having a career year as the Sparks destroy everyone in the league.
Breanna Stewart, Storm (2 starting votes, 2 reserve votes) - Stewart's just a rookie, but she's already looking like a female Kevin Durant out there (sorry to bring that guy up again). She is already averaging nearly a double-double each night, has a good perimeter shot, AND she is second on the Storm with assists.
Though she's not Seattle's absolute bonafide franchise player yet because Sue Bird is still there, Stewart is the successor Storm fans are looking for and then some.
Stewart is also a player not unlike Emma Meesseman since they are tall stretch forwards, I'll have to go off on a tangent and tie this with the Mystics.
Of the two, Meesseman is more skilled and post oriented but Stewart has more guard skills. If the two were in a shooting or a skills contest, I'd put my money on Meesseman to beat Stewart in most of them. But Meesseman is passive to a fault as a number one option. Stewart isn't passive to begin with, which is why she is better wired to be a franchise player than Meesseman right now.
Hopefully, Meesseman can re-wire herself so she can get that "killer instinct" or be more "American" if you assume that European stars aren't supposed to be dominant scorers. If she can, then Mystics vs. Storm games will be exciting to watch over the next several years.
Kristi Toliver, Sparks (2 starting votes, 2 reserve votes) - The Sparks have an elite group of posts, but you still need perimeter help. Toliver is providing just that for L.A. is an elite shooter (45 percent from three and 2.7 threes a game) and is also a good playmaker herself.
Sylvia Fowles, Lynx (2 starting votes, 2 reserve votes) - In less than a year since her arrival, Fowles has quickly emerged as the number 2 option for the Lynx offensively and remains an elite low post defending presence.
Candace Parker, Sparks (1 starting vote, 3 reserve votes) - If it came down to who started among the Sparks' two posts, I pick Parker. She isn't making 70 percent of her shots because she has a much more diverse skillset as a shooter and passer.
Don't get me wrong on Ogwumike. She is a legit MVP candidate. But in the Western Conference where there are multiple teams with multiple superstars, you gotta leave someone out of the starting lineup and ultimately the team. For me, Parker starts because she is an all-around player and I'm biased for players with her skillset.
Jewell Loyd, Storm (4 reserve votes) - The 2015 Rookie of the Year is averaging career highs in scoring and assists. She isn't the all-around player Stewart is, but Loyd is also a superstar herself and would easily be the bonafide franchise player for a number of teams, even the Mystics.
I think that Loyd is superstar material as well for Seattle. They may not make the playoffs this season, but as I said with Stewart earlier, things are trending up in Seattle.
DeWanna Bonner, Mercury (4 reserve votes) - Bonner is Phoenix's second leading scorer (14.9 points per game) and is leading the team in minutes played. In addition, she also has improved her effective field goal percentage to a career right 50.2 percent. It's kind of a shame that she has only one All-Star appearance to her credit so far. If there was a game this year, she's a safe bet to make it.
Three of us voted for these players:
Sue Bird, Storm - Everyone but Elle voted for Bird on the team. I voted for Bird because she is leading the WNBA in assists and has also considerably improved her shooting efficiency to 44.1 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from three this season. Ultimately that has shot up her effective field goal percentage from a career-low 42.8 percent in 2015 to 53.3 percent this season, in part thanks to her increased production from deep.
With raw numbers, Bird's scoring has increased from just a tad over 10 points a game in 2015 to 12 a game this season. She's old, but Bird has certainly tweaked her game and has improved from last season. Numbers don't lie, and she's as much of an analyticophile as many of us are.
Kayla McBride, Stars - McBride is by far the Stars' most reliable scorer and all around player. It's a shame that a foot fracture sidelined her. Her shooting efficiency certainly isn't great, but without her on the court, there isn't that much to root for in San Antonio in the short term. I mean, TIM DUNCAN JUST RETIRED!
Glory Johnson, Wings - After missing the 2015 season due to having a child, Johnson has bounced back and is producing at an even higher level as a rebounder. Her 23 point, 22 rebound performance on July 5 against the Mercury is an exclamation mark on why she'll be a force to be reckoned with in the post for years to come.
A House divided
Two writers voted for these players:
Brittney Griner, Mercury - Mitch and I voted for Griner because of her game-changing ability on defense with altering shots. However, L.W. and Elle left her out. Though Griner is a great player, there are a lot of great frontcourt players in the West, and someone has to be left out. This season, many of Griner's Per 36 stats are at the lowest in her career and Phoenix has underachieved, so perhaps that's one knock on her.
Moriah Jefferson, Stars - The rookie averages over 40 percent from three and leads San Antonio in assists. Jefferson also has some clutch genes in her when she scored two buzzer beaters to lead the Stars to a win over the Indiana Fever on July 1. I didn't vote for her, but I don't have an issue with Elle and L.W. doing so.
One writer voted these players to their team:
Penny Taylor, Mercury - I was tempted to leave Taylor off because Phoenix had such a horrendous start, but she really is the glue that holds the Mercury together. This season, she has averaged 13.3 points while shooting 42.6 percent from three, 4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. Taylor is really a do-it-all player.
Courtney Paris, Wings - Paris has remained a solid rebounding presence over the last several seasons. This season, she is averaging 8.5 per game. Paris also has been able to score 8.4 points a game despite having just a very low 13.8 percent usage rating.
If there's a team that we didn't give enough love to, it would be the Dallas Wings. Like the Mystics, they have been built with a large number of homegrown draft picks, but they also have higher picks too. Still, I was a little surprised that only one of the four writers had more than one Wings player in the lineup.
Anyway, here are some -- but not necessarily all -- of the players who we considered to make the team. But ultimately, all of us left them out, Wings and otherwise:
Odyssey Sims, Wings - Leads Dallas in scoring with 14.8 points and 3.7 assists per game. Also a member of the Team USA Select Team
Karima Christmas, Wings - Christmas is Dallas' second-leading scorer.
Aerial Powers, Wings - The rookie is scoring 10.2 points a game of the bench. She's a little inefficient, but get this - she scores more per 36 minutes than anyone else on Dallas' roster!
Lindsay Whalen, Lynx - Whalen's numbers are down from past seasons, but part of the reason why is because she is averaging less than 24 minutes a game this season. Last year, she averaged over 30.
Also, Whalen's per/36 numbers have improved in scoring, rebounding, and assists. With an effective field goal percentage of 54.7 percent, that's also working nicely into her favor.
(* * *)
So there you have it, our 2016 hypothetical WNBA All-Star lineups. Who would you put on your Eastern and Western Conference teams? Let us know in the comments below.
All stats are good for games through July 12, 2016