The WNBA season is nearing its halfway point, and this season’s celebration will take place in Las Vegas for the first time on July 27. It’s going to be epic — DJ Liz Cambage is set to perform with Snoop Dogg and Iggy Azalea the night before the game.
But right now is a stressful time. This is my first time voting as an official member of the media panel, and I’ve spent the better part of the weekend sweating, second-guessing, and compulsively reloading Basketball-Reference pages. With teams only playing 12-14 games at this point, it’s tough to decide who really earns a spot. Nevertheless, I’ve come to my decisions.
- Media vote for the starting 10 — four backcourt players and six frontcourt players
- Coaches vote for the 12 reserves
- Media votes only count for 25 percent of the total tally (players get 25 percent, while fans 50 percent). So if you hate my picks, yell at me in the comments but THEN GO VOTE on your own. You have until Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET.
Here are my choices, and why:
1. Kia Nurse, New York Liberty
Yeah, Kia Nurse! The Liberty weren’t expected to be in the playoff mix this year, but Nurse, at only 23 years old, is breaking out and keeping them in. She’s the future wing of the W, taking six threes per game and sinking 38 percent of them. Averaging 17 points per game, Nurse is handing a bigger offensive role with ease. In her second season, she should be an all-star.
2. Kayla McBride, Las Vegas Aces
At long last, McBride is playing on a championship roster, and she’s making the most of it. She’s scoring 15 points on a career-best 43 percent shooting from deep and 47 percent from the field. With five rebounds and three assists to boot, she’s an easy all-star choice to rep the hometown Aces.
3. Ariel Atkins, Washington Mystics
Best believe Atkins, a second-year player who wasn’t even invited to the 2018 draft, should start among the game’s best. A two-way phenom, Atkins is building off her terrific rookie season to score 12 points on 37 percent three-point shooting with nearly two steals per game for the best team in the league. She needs to be a starter in Vegas.
4. Odyssey Sims, Minnesota Lynx
The final choice in the backcourt was TOUGH. I considered the Sparks’ Chelsea Gray and Chicago’s Diamond DeShields, but Sims’ season to this point has been more impressive. Back as a consistent starter for the first time in three seasons, she’s doubled her points per game from last year to 16 on double the assists (six), with four rebounds and a steal per game. Her shooting is still shaky (42 percent, 28 percent from deep), but she’s helped carry the Lynx to an 8-6 record despite the losses of Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson, Lindsay Whalen, Karima Christmas-Kelly, AND Jessica Shephard.
Just missed the cut: Chelsea Gray, Los Angeles Sparks
1. Elena Delle Donne, Washington Mystics
Delle Donne is the frontrunner for MVP at this point in the season. Excluding a game she left after one minute with a broken nose, she’s scoring 17 points with nine rebounds per night on 46 percent shooting for the best offense in the league. Easy pick.
2. Natasha Howard, Seattle Storm
Last year’s Most Improved Player of the Year is a surefire all-star now. Without Sue Bird or Breanna Stewart all season, and without Jewell Loyd for four games and counting, the Storm are 8-8. Howard’s 18 points, nine rebounds, two blocks, and two steals have a heckuva lot to do with that.
3. Jonquel Jones, Connecticut Sun
Jones is averaging 16 points and 11 rebounds per game, and her Connecticut Sun team is a half-game out of first place because of it. Jones — who dunked at the event two years ago by the way — is another easy choice.
4. A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces
Wilson got off to a slow start to the season, but her 39-point game against the Indiana Fever reminded us that she’s a superstar just surrounded by a handful of other superstars in Vegas. She’s scoring 17 points with seven rebounds on 50 percent shooting. All-star.
5. Liz Cambage, Las Vegas Aces
Cambage got off to a slow start for her new team while playing limited minutes, but now she’s rolling like her MVP runner-up self from a year ago. In just 24 minutes per game, she’s averaging 15 points and eight rebounds on 51 percent shooting. Add 1.5 blocks and half-a-steal a game to that, and you have an all-star starter.
6. DeWanna Bonner, Phoenix Mercury
Without Diana Taurasi, the Phoenix Mercury haven’t been what we hoped at just 6-6, but Bonner has been. She’s scoring 19 points per game with eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. She isn’t shooting well (38 percent from the field), but her defense is stellar, and that earned her my final vote.
Just missed: Napheesa Collier, Minnesota Lynx
Here are a few other things to celebrate the week.
Chelsea Gray recorded the eighth WNBA triple-double EVER
Gray’s been up-and-down this year, but when she’s on, she’s ON. In a 17-point win over the Mystics, she scored 13 points (5-of-12 shootIng), grabbed 10 boards, and dished 13 assists with just two turnovers. I might not’ve picked her as a starter, but she’s an all-star for sure.
Chiney Ogwumike beat the Sky, then analyzed NBA free agency on ESPN in four hours
No need to type out more words on this, because I talked to Chiney all about it right here!
Kia Nurse’s half-spin is WILD
Please watch this Sydney Colson dribble-move on the baseline
The hesitation into a between-the-legs?!? Sheesh.
Get ready for DJ Liz
The WNBA All-Star Game is July 27 in Las Vegas and you know what that means on the night before …
DJ LIZ CAMBAGE with SNOOP DOGG (and Iggy Azalea) at Mandalay Bay Beach.