8 deserving candidates for WNBA All-Star Game in Chicago

8 deserving candidates for WNBA All-Star Game in Chicago

The 2022 WNBA season is inching closer and closer to its midpoint. That means we are inching closer and closer to All-Star Weekend, the centerpiece of which will be the All-Star Game. This year’s game will emanate from Wintrust Arena — home court of the defending champion Chicago Sky.

Lots of the W’s premier players have made strong cases so far this season as to why they should occupy one of the roster spots for one of the two teams that will take the court in the Windy City. Here are eight who are more than deserving. 

A’ja Wilson

Wilson’s Las Vegas Aces currently boasts the best WNBA record at 12-2. After suffering defeat in the semifinals last season, Wilson and her Aces are playing as if there is some unfinished business to attend to. 

Wilson averaged 18.1 points and 9.6 rebounds, in addition to a shooting percentage over 50 percent, to lead Las Vegas. The latest fan vote update from the WNBA has Wilson as the leading vote nominee with over 21,000 votes.

Breanna Stewart

The centerpiece of the Seattle Storm franchise, ever since she was drafted out of UConn in 2016, Stewart has already participated in three All-Star Games — including the 2017 rendition on her home court in Seattle. It appears she is on the verge of adding a fourth to her already illustrious resume. 

Stewart is leading the WNBA in scoring, posting 22.1 points per game for a Storm team that appears to be hitting its stride at its midpoint. That same update that had Wilson leading the fan vote shows Stewart in second place. She had garnered over 20,000 votes.

Arike Ogunbowale

If the Dallas Wings’ star is named to the All-Star Game, she will likely be a fan favorite in the City of Broad Shoulders. After all, she played high school basketball right up the road in Milwaukee and hooped collegiately at Notre Dame, which has many fans in the Chicago area. 

Ogunbowale averaged 18.3 points and 3.7 points for a Wings team that, slowly but surely, is climbing back up the W’s ranks. Dallas made the postseason last season and would qualify for playoff basketball, once again, if they were to begin today.

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Skylar Diggins-Smith

If Diggins-Smith is selected as one of this year’s All-Star participants, there will likely be a large contingent of her fans who will show up to Wintrust Arena, given that she also wore the Fighting Irish’s colors in her collegiate days. 

Diggins-Smith played 14 games this season for the Phoenix Mercury and averaged 18.3 points and 5.2 assists per contest. She already has five All-Star appearances as part of her resume, and there is a good chance that 2022 will make it six. Her team struggled mightily out the gate but has played better basketball in its last few games.

Rhyne Howard

Howard was Atlanta Dream’s No. 1 overall pick in this year’s WNBA draft. She has been everything and then some that the Dream could have hoped she would be since they moved up in that draft in a trade with the Washington Mystics.

She played in 15 games this season and averaged 16.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Howard has put Atlanta in a position to contend for one of the eight playoff berths after several Dream seasons primarily defined by losing basketball and looking ahead to draft lotteries.

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Sabrina Ionescu

Speaking of draft lotteries, the New York Liberty won its lottery in the 2020 draft for the opportunity to draft the Oregon Ducks great. Ionescu was injured in her first season in the league — 2020 — then took time to find her footing last season. She seems to have found it now.

Ionescu averaged 17 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists this season for the Liberty. Her team started slow but has since played better basketball, winning five of their last seven games — including a near upset of the defending champion Sky at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Kelsey Mitchell

Mitchell may not get as much attention as other potential All-Stars, given that she plays for a team that has been in virtual rebuild mode since Tamika Catchings retired. Her play underscores how deserving she is of an appearance, wins or not. 

She is currently averaging 19.2 points per game — third among all WNBA scorers behind Stewart and Wilson’s Aces teammate (and fellow Kelsey) Kelsey Plum. If Mitchell were selected for this year’s All-Star Game, it would be her first time (and unlikely to be the last, as her career continues to flourish). 

Jonquel Jones

When making All-Star teams, one would think there would be space for an individual who was the reigning league MVP from the previous season. 

Jones has been comfortable on the court and has played 16 games this season. Within those 16 matchups, Jones averaged nearly a double-double — 15.1 points and nine rebounds in the young campaign. She, too, has already participated in several All-Star contests — three of them, to be exact. The Connecticut Sun have been consistent title contenders with Jones leading the way, and that is the case, once again, this season as the Sun’s record stands at 12-4.

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Honorable Mention — Brittney Griner

For those that may not know, it was revealed closer to the start of the year that Griner was arrested and detained in Russia after attempting to depart from the country for her safety following Russia launching its war against Ukraine. 

One would think that if Griner were not going through what has to be a mentally taxing situation and was back home around her loved ones (where she should be), she would be posting numbers indicative of another All-Star season. She deserves to be home. 

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