A Swish Appeal writer's 2014 WNBA All-Star Game ballot

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While we wait for the results to be released, I show you who I would vote for to start in the 2014 WNBA All-Star game based on the ballot that was available.

The 2014 WNBA All-Star voting period ended on Wednesday, July 2. The All-Star starting lineup will be announced on Tuesday, July 8, and the reserves will be announced on Tuesday, July 15. We have talked about early returns previously, and barring something crazy, I think the most of the projected starters in those early returns will remain.

While I do have some complaints about the ballot, and that one particular team didn't have two of its rookies on there, I decided to show you guys who I voted for based on the players available.

My Eastern Conference Starters

For the purposes of this, I limited all starters to players listed on this list:

Guard Frontcourt
Atlanta Dream Matee Ajavon Erika de Souza
Shoni Schimmel Sancho Lyttle
Angel McCoughtry
Chicago Sky Epiphanny Prince Jessica Breland
Courtney Vandersloot Elena Delle Donne
Sylvia Fowles
Connecticut Sun Katie Douglas Kelsey Bone
Allison Hightower Kelsey Griffin
Chiney Ogwumike
Indiana Fever Briann January Tamika Catchings
Shavonte Zellous Marissa Coleman
Erlana Larkins
New York Liberty Anna Cruz Essence Carson
Cappie Pondexter Tina Charles
Plenette Pierson
Washington Mystics Ivory Latta Monique Currie
Kara Lawson Emma Meesseman
Kia Vaughn

So here's my starting five based on the players available, and my irrational rational (or rational irrational) reasons why:

Katie Douglas, Guard, Connecticut Sun - After missing most of the 2013 season due to injury (while playing for the Indiana Fever), Douglas has had a bounce back year, averaging 12.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. Her field goal percentage is below her career average, but considering that she only played four games in 2013, is playing better than most of the other guards I had on this list, and is the veteran leader for this young, better than expected Connecticut team, I'm giving her a vote.

Shavonte Zellous, Guard, Indiana Fever - Last season, Zellous got into the All-Star game as a reserve and filled in admirably for the aforementioned Douglas who now is back in Connecticut. While Zellous' overall scoring average has gone down from last year (14.7 to 12.3 ppg), she is making shots at an efficient clip, including a career high 40.5% from three.

Angel McCoughtry, Frontcourt, Atlanta Dream -  In short, McCoughtry is the leading scorer for the best team in the East. But there's also something else where she's improved. Last year, McCoughtry averaged 4.4 assists but also averaged over 4 turnovers. Ouch! This year, she is averaging nearly as many assists, but is averaging three turnovers. Definitely a good thing.

Erika de Souza, Frontcourt, Atlanta Dream - de Souza is averaging a career high in scoring at 16.1 ppg, while also rebounding the ball nearly 10 times. Last year, it was a surprise to me that she was not named an All-Star reserve until she came in as an injury replacement, but she had better be a starter after injury replacements considering the returns.

Erlana Larkins, Frontcourt, Indiana Fever - Larkins is averaging a double double in points and rebounds. She is also averaging 2.8 assists (compared with 2.6 turnovers), and 2.1 steals. Definitely a career year for her, and I want to recognize it.

Honorable mentions

The other players I considered at guard included Ivory Latta, Epiphanny Prince, Courtney Vandersloot, and Cappie Pondexter. The other players I considered at the frontcourt included Emma Meesseman, Sancho Lyttle, Tina Charles, and Chiney Ogwumike.

I was going to add Elena Delle Donne into the starting lineup, but I took her out and put in Larkins because I wanted to see who were the five players that could play today. Delle Donne may not play in the All-Star game, considering that she is out indefinitely due to Lyme Disease.

My Western Conference Starters

Here are the players I will pick the starters from:

Guard Frontcourt
Los Angeles Sparks Alana Beard Jantel Lavender
Kristi Toliver Nneka Ogwumike
Candace Parker
Minnesota Lynx Seimone Augustus Rebekkah Brunson
Lindsay Whalen Janel McCarville
Maya Moore
Phoenix Mercury Erin Phillips DeWanna Bonner
Diana Taurasi Candice Dupree
Brittney Griner
San Antonio Stars Becky Hammon Jayne Appel
Danielle Robinson Kayla McBride
Sophia Young-Malcolm
Seattle Storm Sue Bird Crystal Langhorne
Tanisha Wright Camille Little
Shekinna Stricklen
Tulsa Shock Skylar Diggins Jordan Hooper
Riquna Williams Glory Johnson
Courtney Paris

Skylar Diggins, Guard, Tulsa Shock - Before I get to any rationale, I'll have to give this disclaimer on the guards in particular. Yeah, I know there are some guards on better teams and all produce great stats. But I decided to vote for younger guards not named Diana Taurasi, Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen, or Sue Bird here because of two reasons. First, there are multiple, really good guards available in the Western Conference to put in the starting lineup. Second, the guards who I don't put in my starting lineup will be reserves anyway, since the coaches will pick them. That said, I think the two guards I selected could be the premier guards of the future in this league.

Diggins has made a quantum leap in her shooting efficiency, making 43.9% of her shots as opposed to 32.8% in her rookie year. That also includes the fact that she now more than doubled her scoring average from 8.5 to 20.9 points per game. Second, Diggins is averaging more assists (3.8 to 5.3) and slightly less turnovers a game (2.88 to 2.69).

And on top of all that, the Shock can beat any team, any night. This team isn't the abomination that was the 2011 team.

Danielle Robinson, Guard, San Antonio Stars - I've complained that it is a capital offense that she is not getting enough love in the votes. So I vote for her in part "just because." But really, D-Rob is averaging a career high in scoring, and has increased it every year she's been in the league. Then, she is averaging a career high in steals, is making over 90% of her free throws and is getting to the line at a much higher rate. If she can develop a three point shot like her backcourt-mate Becky Hammon, D-Rob could be considered the best point guard in the WNBA.

Maya Moore, Frontcourt, Minnesota Lynx - I'm sticking with my lineup of the future with the West by picking another player who was drafted after 2008. Moore is also the league leader in scoring average while dishing 3.4 assists, stealing the ball over two times, and grabbing 8.1 rebounds a game. She should have the inside track to winning the MVP award too.

Brittney Griner, Frontcourt, Phoenix Mercury - Griner has made a significant leap forward in her game by increasing her scoring, rebounding, and blocking averages. Her 4.1 blocks per game leads the league by a LOT. Griner really alters more shots than that too.

Courtney Paris, Frontcourt, Tulsa Shock - Paris currently leads the WNBA in rebounding average and is an unsung hero for the Shock's play in 2014. She should be a very strong candidate for Most Improved Player as well. Her free throw shooting and high foul rate can still use room for improvement, but Paris has been having an excellent year nevertheless.

Paris will not be starting in the game because she doesn't have the name recognition that Candace Parker has (and two of my three spots in the frontcourt are going to projected starters anyway), but I wanted to highlight Paris' season here, so giving her a vote on my ballot is a way to do that.

Honorable mentions

The other players I considered at guard were most of the "usual suspects," including those who will all but start the game: Diana Taurasi, Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen, and Sue Bird. The other players I considered at the frontcourt positions included Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike, Glory Johnson, Candice Dupree, and Crystal Langhorne.

The Write-In Vote

A number of well performing players were not included in the ballots, in particular younger players like Alex Bentley of the Connecticut Sun and Odyssey Sims of the Tulsa Shock.

Since I left the Washington Mystics out of the starting lineup in the Eastern Conference, I'll vote for Bria Hartley here. She is among the top five among all rookies for scoring, assists, and the best in the league at making defenders fall sideways. Sorry Maggie Lucas.

So that's all I have on my All-Star Ballot and the starting lineups. Which five players would you put in your starting lineups based on the players listed? Share them in the comments below.

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