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Who should be the 2023 WNBA All-Star starters?

Media ballots for the 2023 WNBA All-Star Game are due at 2 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Connecticut Sun v Los Angeles Sparks - Game Three
MVP candidates Alyssa Thomas (left) and Nneka Ogwumike (right)
Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

As of last Tuesday, the fans had voted for A’ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart, Brittney Griner, Aliyah Boston, Jackie Young, Jewell Loyd, Satou Sabally, Elena Delle Donne, Arike Ogunbowale and Kelsey Plum to be the 2023 WNBA All-Star starters. One week later, here’s the vote that I cast:

Frontcourt (in alphabetical order)

  • Brittney Griner
  • Nneka Ogwumike
  • Satou Sabally
  • Breanna Stewart
  • Alyssa Thomas
  • A’ja Wilson

Stewie looks like the early frontrunner for MVP, and it isn’t really even close in my opinion. She’s averaging 23.9 points, 10.8 rebounds, four assists, 1.7 steals and 2.1 blocks! All are career highs, including the steals (by 0.05 over 2020). And it’s all while shooting 50/40/80. She’s a lock to make her fifth ASG and fourth ASG start; she should also be experiencing being a captain for the second time.

AT finished fourth in MVP voting last year, but still didn’t get enough respect entering this season. Not enough people believed she would be a perennial Top 5 player. Well, now she’s second in the WNBA when you add up the five major statistical categories (per game with assists counting times 1.5), behind only Stewie. Hopefully the media and players can bump her up into the starter field because as of last Tuesday she was over 8,000 votes behind the final frontcourt selection.

Skylar Diggins-Smith said prior to the 2020 WNBA Draft that Sabally seemed the most pro-ready player in the draft class. Now, after three good but not great seasons, Sabally is in the MVP conversation in her fourth season. She’s the exciting new superstar like Kelsey Plum, Sabrina Ionescu and Jackie Young were last year, and I think she will get into the ASG as a starter.

Nneka is in the Top 4 of the MVP conversation this year after being on the fringe of it last year. She of course won the award in 2016 and is one of the most under-appreciated former MVPs of all time. She is just a joy to watch as she plays some of the best basketball of her career after a couple of off years in 2020 and 2021. Her 9.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game are career highs and her 19.6 points per game are just 0.1 off her 2016 career high.

A’ja still has a shot at being a captain because the fan vote will help her out a lot, but I doubt she finishes in the Top 2 in the player vote or media vote. She is the best player on the best team though, quietly averaging an impressive 18.5 points per game. I say quietly because Jackie Young is loudly averaging 20.8 for the same Aces squad. I don’t have A’ja at the top of my list, but she still deserves to be an All-Star starter, which is a huge honor, though she’s probably trying to rack up first-place voting finishes so that she can be considered Top 3 in the WNBA all-time.

I was torn between BG and Napheesa Collier for the last frontcourt spot. BG was of course detained in Russia for all of last season and the proper story would be getting to see her start the All-Star Game. You can see that fans had her third in the voting as of last Tuesday behind only Stewie and A’ja. That’s not surprising. But BG really does deserve to be a starter, though it is close between her and Collier. In addition to averaging 20.1 points and 2.5 blocks, Griner is shooting 62.4 percent from the field, which would lead the WNBA in all but eight of the 26 seasons that have been completed.

Phoenix Mercury v New York Liberty
Breanna Stewart
Photo by Catalina Fragoso/NBAE via Getty Images

Guards (in alphabetical order)

  • Chelsea Gray
  • Jewell Loyd
  • Arike Ogunbowale
  • Jackie Young

Split up Stewie and Jewell and what do you get? The two of them leading the league in scoring. The Gold Mamba is first with 25.4 points per game, an average that was raised by her career-high 39 on Saturday. Playing in Stewart’s shadow, Loyd’s numbers were always lower than what they could have been, which contributed to her not being voted an ASG starter at times. She did however start the ASG in 2019, a season Stewart missed in its entirety due to a torn Achilles, and in 2021, but that was as a member of Team USA, not by vote. An All-Star Game start for Loyd this year would probably taste the sweetest of the three.

Arike was an All-Star starter and the MVP of the game in her first appearance in 2021 before appearing as a reserve last year. She has truly earned her way back into the starting lineup with 23.5 points per game this year. Despite being one of the most gifted players in the league when it comes to pure talent, Arike is often disrespected on top player lists because of her inefficiency. But it’s hard to argue with 23.5 points per game, which is a career high, this time around.

Young is shooting 59.9 percent from the field as a guard! And 46.8 percent from distance with two makes per game! She has to be a lock as an All-Star starter in my book, and is indeed doing well (fifth) in the fan voting as Aces Nation has shown up as usual. Young doesn’t have a ton of rebounds or assists, but to be averaging 20.8 points when her previous career high is 15.9 is phenomenal. And she’s doing it at the very moment when it seemed she would disappear behind the addition of Candace Parker to an already stacked Vegas roster.

Like with the frontcourt, the final guard selection was difficult for me. I feel bad for Allisha Gray because she has never been to the ASG and I truly hope she gets in as a reserve. But I had to go with the other Gray, Chelsea. She’s averaging 13.8 points and 6.1 assists and her efficiency in last year’s postseason has carried over. She’s got A. Gray beat assists and all three shooting categories (51.3 percent from the field, 51.4 percent from beyond the arc with 1.7 makes per game and 100 percent from the charity stripe with one make per game). A. Gray makes far more free throws but makes fewer threes at a 36.7 percent clip. Her field goal percentage is 49.2.

I had a feeling C. Gray would be starting in the ASG this year after playing like an all-time great in the playoffs last year. The fact that she is contributing to the best team in the league and still putting up decent scoring numbers despite all the scoring options factored into my decision. The Aces deserve three ASG starters.

Meanwhile, I nearly gave the Liberty three ASG starters as well, as Sabrina Ionescu and Courtney Vandersloot were among the five guards I considered for the last spot (the other three being C. Gray, A. Gray and Diana Taurasi). At the end of the day, Sloot was never really close because she’s shooting 22.2 percent from long range. Neither was Taurasi (35.5 percent from the field and 25.4 percent from outside with the most turnovers per game of the five). But Ionescu was close behind C. Gray and A. Gray. Her field goal percentage hurt her, but she’s shooting 42.9 percent from three with a WNBA-leading 3.4 makes per game! She’s also the No. 4 guard in the WNBA when you add up the five major statistical categories (per game with assists counting times 1.5), so is deserving of a second straight ASG starting bid if you were to base it solely on that.

Collier is the No. 6 frontcourt player when you follow that formula. BG is No. 7. A. Gray is the No. 5 guard and C. Gray is the No. 7 guard.

Seattle Storm v Dallas Wings
Jewell Loyd
Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images