Starting Five: Thoughts on WNBA 2024 All-Star rosters

Photo Credit: Akiem Bailum

We are nearly halfway through the 2024 WNBA season. In fact, a number of teams are technically more than halfway finished with their seasons in terms of games played. 

This means that it is almost time to look ahead to this year’s All-Star festivities. This year’s rendition will emanate from the Footprint Center in Phoenix with much of it being an infomercial for the upcoming rendition of USA Basketball that will compete in this year’s Olympics in Paris.

It will follow the similar Team USA vs. Team WNBA format that we saw in 2021 prior to that year’s Olympics in Tokyo. That year, Team WNBA defeated Team USA with Arike Ogunbowale claiming MVP honors. 

This year’s USA Basketball rendition is scheduled to include A’ja Wilson, Chelsea Gray, Jackie Young, Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces), Breanna Stewart, Sabrina Ionescu (New York Liberty), Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, Kahleah Copper (Phoenix Mercury), Napheesa Collier (Minnesota Lynx), Seattle Storm (Jewell Loyd) and Alyssa Thomas (Connecticut Sun). 

Team WNBA will feature Aliyah Boston, Kelsey Mitchell, Caitlin Clark (Indiana Fever), Brionna Jones, DeWanna Bonner (Connecticut Sun), Jonquel Jones (New York Liberty), Allisha Gray (Atlanta Dream), Dearica Hamby (Los Angeles Sparks), Angel Reese (Chicago Sky), Nneka Ogwumike (Seattle Storm), Kayla McBride (Minnesota Lynx), and Arike Ogunbowale (Dallas Wings).

Without further ado, here are five thoughts on this year’s All-Star rosters. 

Even though there are a litany of storylines going into this year’s All-Star weekend (as there are every All-Star weekend), our guess is plenty of our brethren in the mainstream press will try to make the idea of Reese and Clark on the same team into a thing. 

The media has been trying to sell the idea that not only is there a rivalry between the two that dates back to their days at LSU and Iowa, respectively, but that Clark is the hero and that Reese is the villain. 

Ignoring the obvious racial overtones from that lazy media framing, the reality is that there is no hero-villain dynamic between the two. Also, Reese and Clark have played in the same basketball circles since their AAU days. 

The mainstream media has been trying to sell a story that is not there. They will try to make the story the Reese-Clark “rivalry” when those that actually watch basketball understand there is no bad blood between the two. Plus – the All-Star Game is merely an exhibition and our brethren that are just now following the WNBA will try to turn this into something as if Clark and Reese will not be able to coexist when we know they will have no problems doing so.

If the media wants to chase any Clark and Reese related story, they should be mentioning how both are co-leaders in the clubhouse for this year’s Rookie of the Year award. But that requires…substance and may not serve as clickbait that “rivalry” does. 

That first Clark assist to Reese…we cannot wait. 

Speaking of Clark, she was recently asked about if she will participate in the 3-Point Contest. Here was her response. 

That was essentially a non-confirmation confirmation that she will indeed take part in the 3-Point Contest. Anyone who understands public relations knows what Clark said is the oldest trick in the book. Yeah – she will be indeed launch triples (Starry balls included) on All-Star Friday. 

When we say “last time,” we mean the last time All-Star was contested under this format which was the 2021 rendition. 

Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas was the site and Team WNBA defeated Team USA. Ogunbowale came away with MVP honors. Will lightning strike twice in the same place with Team USA suffering defeat to Team WNBA prior to an Olympics?

Remember all of the hoop-la of when the Olympic team was announced with Clark being left off and many in the mainstream press who can only name one WNBA player without googling decrying it as a snub? 

Let us talk about some actual snubs from this game. 

First…we must mention Ezi Magbegor. She was part of last year’s All-Star Game as part of the Seattle Storm’s contingency. One of the best defensive players in the entire WNBA, Magbegor has averaged 2.5 blocks per contest. In addition, she is one of four from Seattle who is in double-digits in the point average category. Magbegor has averaged 13.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per game in addition to 2.4 assists. 

Another who is a snub is Chennedy Carter of the Chicago Sky. It was yet to be seen how Carter would perform with her new team. Hollywood has had a resurgent campaign in 2024. She is the leading scorer for the Sky. Carter is averaging 16.3 points and 1.3 steals per contest. Not to mention the speed she possesses would serve her well in a Skills Challenge. Carter is a huge reason why, as of this writing, the Sky would be in the playoffs. 

Also, as of this writing, the Atlanta Dream would be on the outside looking in of the playoff picture – which would be a disappointment given the Dream qualified for the postseason in 2023 as a five seed. That has nothing to do with the heroics of Tina Charles who has to garner strong consideration for Comeback Player of the Year. She is averaging 14.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Not to mention, she recently passed Tamika Catchings to move into third on the WNBA’s all-time scoring list. 

In Major League Baseball,it is a requirement that each team have at least one representative. That will be more difficult to do in future version of the WNBA thanks to expansion (Golden State, Toronto, etc.) but the WNBA got really close this time.

When looking at the rosters for both Team USA and Team WNBA, one can see that 11 of the 12 teams will have at least one representative in the All-Star Game. The lone team that will not be sending anyone to Phoenix? The last-place Washington Mystics at 5-17 on the season. 

Anyone who studies vote totals loves to emphasize how much the number of raw votes matter. 

When looking at the raw vote totals for the 2023 All-Star Game, one can see that they were in the five figures. Thanks to Clark and Reese, those figures were in the six figures. 

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