The 2019 WNBA All-Star reserves were announced on Monday and you know what that means: It’s time to talk about snubs.
As we all know, if there’s one thing more fun than celebrating players who do make the WNBA All-Star Game, it’s complaining about the ones who don’t. Never mind that it’s a zero-sum game (each snub would theoretically have to replace someone else on the roster) or that most players would gladly just take the weekend off rather than compete in a meaningless exhibition.
In all seriousness, it’s virtually impossible to choose an All-Star roster without leaving out at least one or two players who are deserving. Even in a season marred by the absence of so many star players, there’s more than enough talent in the WNBA to pick up the slack, which inevitably means someone will be left out.
No matter your level of cynicism, discussion of snubs gets people talking at the very least. Such is the purpose of this piece: to look at some of the players who had All-Star credentials but didn’t make the roster.
Already one of the most popular players in the WNBA, Collier actually received the fourth most fan votes among frontcourt players — more than Natasha Howard, Jonquel Jones, Brittney Griner and Minnesota teammate Sylvia Fowles.
Ultimately, though, the fan vote wasn’t enough for Collier. Media and players voted her 12th and 13th among frontcourt candidates, respectively, and she wasn’t selected as a reserve by WNBA coaches.
Nevertheless, the Lynx rookie had a solid All-Star case. Averaging 11.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.0 steals per game, Collier has contributed to her team’s success in just about every way possible, and she’s been quietly efficient in her minutes with a 55.0 percent true shooting percentage. What’s more, her on/off splits are actually the highest among qualified Lynx players. With a +13.5 net differential, Collier has quickly shown Cheryl Reeve that she can ill afford to take her off the floor.
Lynx fans can take comfort, though. It’s a huge luxury to have a player come in and make the immediate impact that Collier has and this definitely isn’t the last time we’ll be hearing her name in All-Star discussions.
We saw flashes of brilliance from Hamby last season and she’s upped the ante in 2019, becoming an integral part of the Aces’ rotation and one of the WNBA’s most effective bench players.
Perhaps it’s Hamby’s status as a sixth woman that’s kept her flying under the radar. She’s probably not the first (or second, or third) player who comes to mind when one thinks of the Aces, and she’s playing just under 20 minutes per game — not exactly the high-volume profile of a typical WNBA All-Star.
In those minutes, though, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more productive player. Per 100 possessions, Hamby scores 23.1 points and grabs 15.3 rebounds. Among forwards, she ranks in the top 10 in both rebounding percentage and true shooting percentage.
What makes this all the more impressive is how Hamby’s team performs with her on the court. Consider that the Aces are absolutely loaded up front. Most would agree that A’ja Wilson and Liz Cambage form the best frontcourt in the WNBA, so you’d expect the Aces to take a significant hit when coach Bill Laimbeer goes to his bench unit.
That has not been the case. Hamby boasts a ridiculous on/off net differential of +18.1 and the Aces are actually better in most of the four factors with her on the court than with her on the bench. Given that Hamby has played roughly as many minutes as she’s sat, these figures aren’t just noise. Her high level of play off the bench has allowed Laimbeer to stagger Wilson and Cambage while using his other post players only in emergencies — a huge competitive advantage when he’s able to trot out starting-caliber players against opposing benches.
It’s difficult for bench players to make All-Star games, especially when they aren’t high-volume scorers. Make no mistake about it, though: Hamby is very good at what she does and if she was playing on almost any other WNBA team, we’d probably be referring to her as a player who just earned her first All-Star bid.
Along those same lines, Thomas’ game is one of quiet, steady effectiveness. The Sun has many dynamic players (All-Stars Jonquel Jones and Alyssa Thomas, to name a few) to hog the spotlight. But just as important to the team’s success is the play of its lower-key complementary players, which is what Thomas excels at.
While Alyssa may be affectionately known at “The Engine,” it’s Jasmine who quarterbacks the team’s half-court offense and defends the point of attack. Her shooting percentages may be down from last season, but her distribution numbers are not: She is assisting on 30.4 percent of her teammates’ baskets — a career-high that ranks seventh among WNBA guards playing 20 or more minutes per game.
These numbers may not be eye-popping compared to those of guards who did make the All-Star Game, but they mean a lot to their team. The Sun bench has struggled this season — even more so after Layshia Clarendon went down with an ankle injury — putting a larger burden on Thomas to make the most of her minutes on the court. Connecticut has scored 8.7 points per 100 possessions more with Thomas on the court than when she is on the bench. When Thomas sits, the team’s turnover percentage rises from 16.5 percent to 23 percent.
That’s pretty important stuff for a point guard. Thomas may never put up the gaudy individual statistics of premiere floor generals like Chelsea Gray or Courtney Vandersloot, but the positive impact she has on her team is undeniable.
What do you think about 2019’s All-Star roster? Is there anyone you would have left off? Anyone you feel got snubbed? Let us know in the comments!