Breaking down early ballot returns for the 2014 WNBA All-Star Game

If voting ended last Monday, Ivory Latta would be starting in the All-Star game. - Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The WNBA released its first round of ballot returns for the 2014 WNBA All-Star Game which will be held in Phoenix.

On Tuesday, the WNBA released its first round of early ballot returns on how fan voting is going for the 2014 All-Star Game. Below are the top five guards and top six frontcourt players for each conference based on those returns:

Top Five Guards - Eastern Conference
Rank Player Team Votes
Starter Shoni Schimmel Dream 14,635
Starter Ivory Latta Mystics 5,974
3rd Cappie Pondexter Liberty 5,926
4th Briann January Fever 5,341
5th Courtney Vandersloot Sky 4,972
Top Six Frontcourt Players - Eastern Conference
Rank Player Team Votes
Starter Elena Delle Donne Sky 16,542
Starter Angel McCoughtry Dream 9,736
Starter Tamika Catchings Fever 8,341
4th Erika de Souza Dream 7,579
5th Chiney Ogwumike Sun 6,922
6th Tina Charles Liberty 5,897
Top Five Guards - Western Conference
Rank Player Team Votes
Starter Diana Taurasi Mercury 10,487
Starter Seimone Augustus Lynx 10,024
3rd Lindsay Whalen Lynx 8,898
4th Skylar Diggins Shock 8,447
5th Sue Bird Storm 4,506
Top Six Frontcourt Players - Western Conference
Rank Player Team Votes
Starter Maya Moore Lynx 16,509
Starter Candace Parker Sparks 13,704
Starter Brittney Griner Mercury 10,214
4th Kayla McBride Stars 6,220
5th Nneka Ogwumike Sparks 6,129
6th Janel McCarville Lynx 5,048

So what are some things we can see from these returns?

For the most part, players who are high performers will be voted in as starters to the All-Star Game.

This is always a good thing. The fans want to see the stars play, and the stars are generally the best players in the league. 'Nuff said.

WE WANT SHONI SCHIMMEL!

The rookie guard is running away with it and appears to be a near-lock as an All-Star starter. In fact, she also leads all rookies in All-Star voting. Schimmel had a super start, in particular as a passer in her first four games of the season.

I'll also add this. If All-Star voting ended today, Schimmel would also start alongside Dream teammate Angel McCoughtry. Both of them played their college basketball at the University of Louisville.

However, Schimmel has cooled off since her first few games. This goes into my next point.

There doesn't appear to be much differentiation among the Eastern Conference's guards, beyond Shoni Schimmel.

Yeah. With the exception of Schimmel, whose voting stats could be partially influenced from the Native American and Louisville fan communities, it's a really close race for who's second place for guards in the East. As of today, Ivory Latta of the Washington Mystics would be there, but Cappie Pondexter of the New York Liberty is really, really close.

While Pondexter certainly has more caché than Latta as a player, she may very well be penalized on the ballot box because of the Liberty's really bad start to 2014 considering their preseason expectations. Or perhaps Mystics fans were more diligent about voting. Maybe a bit of both.

At the same time, no Eastern Conference guard has really stood out from the pack as a whole. Then again, with the exception of Cappie Pondexter, no Eastern Conference guard has been a Finals MVP, and the list here does kind of show that the best guards are in the Western Conference. That's my next point.

The Western Conference guard rotation is stacked.

I'll just let the Top 5 list speak for itself. But I will say that Sue Bird has more votes than she should, with all due respect to her resumé.

It is a capital offense that Danielle Robinson is NOT in the Top-5 on this list.

Why Tamika Catchings? And why are some other players on the ballot who clearly don't deserve to be there?

Fans are entitled to vote for whoever they want. But Catchings, despite her resumé has yet to play a game this season, and I don't know how or why she is on the ballot when the league is seeing that she isn't on the court right now, let alone be named a starter if voting ended today. Then again, there are a number of players on the ballot who really shouldn't be.

And it's a felony that Bria Hartley is not on the ballot, so we will not have a "Hartley Effect" because of ... you know:

The only reason why Hartley's omission is not a capital offense is because D-Rob isn't getting enough love in the votes.

Fans did not forget about the Big Three of 2013, a/k/a the Three Words That Shalt Not Be Mentioned.

I've ranted about the Three Words That Shalt Not Be Mentioned last year. Read it here. But that's not the point with this.

Brittney Griner and Elena Delle Donne would be starting in the 2014 All-Star Game, and have justified it with their performances. Skylar Diggins would easily be a starter if she played on an Eastern Conference team. But I'm really impressed with her performance this season and believe that she'll make it as a reserve if nothing else.

These aren't the only trends out there in regards to All-Star voting returns. Have anything to add? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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