WNBA All-Star 2024: Snubs, top questions after roster named

Standout rookies Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese are headed to Phoenix — as teammates. That’s a big takeaway from Tuesday’s 2024 WNBA All-Star roster announcement.

Clark, the Indiana Fever guard who was April’s No. 1 draft pick, and Reese, the Chicago Sky forward who has a WNBA-record 11 straight double-doubles — will represent Team WNBA when it faces Team USA in the league’s All-Star Game in Phoenix on July 20 (8:30 p.m. ET, ABC).

Clark and Reese, both vying for rookie of the year, have brought a lot of energy to their teams and the WNBA, but have been somewhat reluctant antagonists since the 2023 NCAA final. Both downplay the other as a big rival, but their fan bases have done an endless amount of talking about them. Now, they will be on the same side, which has “breaking the Internet” potential on gameday.

Clark is one of three Fever players who made Team WNBA, along with Aliyah Boston and Kelsey Mitchell. The Connecticut Sun also have multiple players on Team WNBA: DeWanna Bonner and Brionna Jones.

While the Americans’ 5-on-5 Olympians will make up Team USA, Team WNBA also has a 2024 Olympian: Dearica Hamby of the Los Angeles Sparkswill compete on the U.S. 3×3 team.

When Team WNBA faced Team USA in the 2021 All-Star Game before the Tokyo Olympics, the WNBA stars beat the Olympians 93-85, led by MVP Arike Ogunbowale. The Dallas Wings guard is back for Team WNBA this year, too.

Did the right players make the roster? Were there any All-Star snubs? What are some of the matchups we are looking forward to? Michael Voepel, Alexa Philippou and Kevin Pelton break down the All-Star roster.

What was the biggest snub for Team WNBA?

Pelton: Ezi Magbegor. In fact, a case could be made that the Seattle Storm center is the most egregious omission ever from the WNBA All-Star Game. She’s on pace to record more wins above replacement player by my WARP metric than any player not chosen during a year the league played an All-Star Game.

What makes this especially strange is Magbegor was an All-Star a year ago, when the Storm were one of the WNBA’s worst teams. Playing with more talent after the Storm added Skylar Diggins-Smith and Nneka Ogwumike, Magbegor has seen her scoring average drop slightly, but she’s averaging career highs in rebounds (8.8, good for seventh in the WNBA) and blocks (2.2, third) per game.

As the anchor of a top-three defense, Magbegor is a leading contender for Defensive Player of the Year. I had her among my six frontcourt selections in my official media vote, which also included members of the USA team. For coaches not to pick her among the 12 spots on Team WNBA is baffling.

Philippou: Magbegor also earned a vote from me for all the reasons Pelton laid out. Otherwise, there aren’t a ton of obvious snubs. Fellow Aussie Alanna Smith had a strong case as a frontcourt addition, and then there was a jumble of guards (including Betnijah Laney-Hamilton, Diggins-Smith, DiJonai CarringtonMarina MabreyChennedy Carter) who were also in consideration, but I wouldn’t classify any of their omissions as snubs.

Rhyne Howard (a U.S. 3×3 Olympian) was also in the conversation for a roster spot prior to a recent ankle injury that has sidelined her indefinitely.

Is it a surprise the Fever have three players on Team WNBA team despite where they are in the standings?

Voepel: Not really, all things considered. There was little doubt Clark and Boston were going to make it on fan voting. They finished in the top 10 in voting, as did Hamby and Ogunbowale, along with six Olympians. Boston and Kelsey Mitchell were also both All-Stars last season. With the fans’ votes counting for 50%, you have to view the All-Star Game in the WNBA the same as with other sports. It is as much about which players the fans want to see as it is about who is perceived to be playing the best. Excitement over the Fever has rippled through every WNBA city they have visited, and that energy will be there for the All-Star Game, too.

And good for the Fever. The last several years, they haven’t been a winning franchise, let alone a cool and popular one. Right now, there is an undeniable buzz about them that longtime Fever fans are thrilled to finally be experiencing again.

Philippou: It’s not necessarily surprising, particularly with a format where fan voting is weighed heavily. (That said, Mitchell was a selection from the league’s head coaches.) Still, in a vacuum it’s a bit perplexing that a 13-6 Seattle team, for example, or the Commissioner’s Cup Champion Minnesota Lynx, only have one Team WNBA representative apiece while the Fever, who are still well below .500, have three.

What will be the most interesting teammate or opponent duos in the All-Star Game?

Voepel: The obvious one is Clark and Reese, whose teams have met three times already during the regular season, along with the two high-profile meetings they had in the NCAA tournament in 2023 and 2024. Either Clark or Reese lead all rookies in most statistical categories, and having them on the same side will be must-see TV.

The Aces (four players) and Mercury (three) make up more than half of Team USA, and have no one on Team WNBA. But the WNBA squad will have Jones and Bonner taking on Connecticut teammate Alyssa Thomas for Team USA.

Team WNBA’s Jonquel Jones, who plays in the same Liberty frontcourt as Breanna Stewart, will play against her and New York guard Sabrina Ionescu in the All-Star Game. The Lynx’s top two players, forward Napheesa Collier (Team USA) and guard Kayla McBride (Team WNBA), are also on opposite sides. Same for Seattle forward Nneka Ogwumike (Team WNBA) and guard Jewell Loyd (Team USA).

Philippou: It’s also worth noting that Connecticut’s Bonner and Thomas are fiancees who will be facing each other in Phoenix. They were both All-Stars in 2023 — when Thomas proposed to Bonner in Las Vegas — as well as in 2019 (pre-relationship and before Bonner joined the Sun), but in those instances they were on the same team.

Which team appears to be the favorite?

Voepel: The vibe in 2021 tilted toward Team WNBA, as the players had a little chip on their shoulders against the Olympians.

But speaking of “vibes,” Ogunbowale said last month that she took herself out of the Olympic pool because she thought “politics” played a role in the team selection.

If I know they’re not picking me, I’m not going to keep going to these [camps] when I know the vibe,” Ogunbowale said on the “Nightcap” podcast. “I’m not going to give you my time if I know the vibe.”

Not being picked for such a hard team to make is no insult — but athletes always look for motivation. Team WNBA has that, while Team USA doesn’t want to lose in an All-Star Game again.

Good as the Olympic team squad is, might there be any concern that it has three members from the Mercury, a team currently under .500? We can expect a lot of energy from Team WNBA. Team USA has to match that to win.

Philippou: The Paris roster is better than the Tokyo one and has a lot of chemistry playing with each other, whether it be from previous Olympics or even the 2022 World Cup. Even the newcomers like Kahleah Copper and Ionescu are playing some of the best basketball of their career right now. Team WNBA will make things interesting as it did in 2021, but it’s hard for me to pick against Team USA this time.

Rookie sensations Caitlin Clark of the Indiana Feverand Angel Reese of the Chicago Sky headline the 12-player Team WNBA that will face the U.S. women’s national team in Phoenix on July 20 in the 2024 WNBA All-Star Game, the league announced Tuesday night.

Clark and Reese, the respective No. 1 and No. 7 picks in the 2024 draft, are the only first-time All-Stars of the group.

Dating to their playing days at Iowa and LSU, respectively, the dynamic pair and their on-court rivalry have helped propel women’s basketball to a new era of growth. Their three meetings across the first two months of the WNBA season were decided by a combined 10 points, and the soon-to-be All-Star teammates are the clear front-runners in the Rookie of the Year race, with Clark taking home Rookie of the Month for May and Reese earning the honor for June.

The Team WNBA roster is also highlighted by nine-time All-Star Nneka Ogwumike and six-time All-Star DeWanna BonnerAliyah Boston and Kelsey Mitchell give Indiana — which has seen an explosion of interest with Clark in tow — the most selections of any team with three.

The group is rounded out by the Connecticut Sun‘s Brionna JonesAtlanta Dream‘s Allisha GrayLos Angeles Sparks‘ Dearica HambyNew York Liberty‘s Jonquel JonesMinnesota Lynx‘s Kayla McBride and Dallas Wings‘ Arike Ogunbowale.

The top 10 All-Star vote-getters — determined by 50% fan voting, 25% current player voting and 25% media voting — were automatically named to the All-Star Game, with those who weren’t previously named to the Olympic 5-on-5 team assigned to Team WNBA.Those 10 players were, in alphabetical order: Boston, Clark, Napheesa CollierKahleah Copper, Hamby, Sabrina Ionescu, Ogunbowale, Breanna StewartA’ja Wilson and Jackie Young. Clark and Boston received the most fan votes, followed by Wilson, Stewart and Reese.

With Collier, Copper, Ionescu, Stewart, Wilson and Young on Team USA, Boston, Clark, Hamby and Ogunbowale were automatically named to Team WNBA.

The league’s coaches then filled out the rest of the Team WNBA roster picking from a list of the next 36 highest vote-getters, ultimately selecting Bonner, Gray, Brionna Jones, Jonquel Jones, McBride, Mitchell, Ogwumike and Reese. The U.S. national team — which will go for an eighth consecutive Olympic gold in Paris starting later this month — also features Diana TaurasiChelsea GrayBrittney GrinerJewell LoydKelsey Plum and Alyssa Thomas.

Starters for both teams will be determined by their respective head coaches.

A group of WNBA All-Stars previously played the U.S. Olympic team in an All-Star Game in 2021, which was won by Team WNBA and led by MVP Ogunbowale.

CHICAGO — Kayla McBride scored 16 points, Napheesa Collier had 13 points and 11 rebounds, and the Minnesota Lynx spoiled a record-setting day from Chicago rookie Angel Reese, rallying for a 70-62 victory over the Sky on Sunday.

Reese broke a WNBA single-season record with her 10th straight double-double, finishing with 10 points and 16 rebounds. Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks set the previous record in 2015.

McBride made two 3-pointers and added 5 rebounds and 5 assists for the Western Conference-leading Lynx (14-4), who were coming off a 94-88 loss at last-place Dallas that ended their seven-game winning streak.

Collier had six assists while recording her 11th double-double of the season. Alanna Smith had 11 points and 7 rebounds.

Reese had a poor shooting day, going 4-of-16 from the floor and 2-of-4 from the free-throw line. She got to 10 points on the second of two free throws with 23 seconds to play.

“She’s gonna continue to do what she does, that’s who she is, she’s always gonna come out and play hard and confident and give you everything that she has,” Sky coach Teresa Weatherspoon said. “She’s the hardest person on herself, so proud of what she’s doing and what she’ll continue to do.”

Chennedy Carter scored 15 points for Chicago. Lindsay Allen made three 3-pointers and scored 13, adding 7 assists and 6 rebounds. Marina Mabreyscored 11 on 4-of-17 shooting.

The Lynx trailed by 51-42 on a jumper by Carter with 2:58 left in the third quarter but cut the deficit to five at the end of the period on a long jumper at the buzzer by Collier.

Minnesota clamped down defensively in the fourth quarter, outscoring Chicago 18-5.

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