WNBA All-Star roster revealed: Snubs and top questions

Standout rookies Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese are headed to Phoenix — as teammates. That’s a big takeaway from Tuesday’s 2024 WNBA All-Star roster announcement.

Clark, the Indiana Fever guard who was April’s No. 1 draft pick, and Reese, the Chicago Sky forward who has a WNBA-record 11 straight double-doubles — will represent Team WNBA when it faces Team USA in the league’s All-Star Game in Phoenix on July 20 (8:30 p.m. ET, ABC).

Clark and Reese, both vying for rookie of the year, have brought a lot of energy to their teams and the WNBA, but have been somewhat reluctant antagonists since the 2023 NCAA final. Both downplay the other as a big rival, but their fan bases have done an endless amount of talking about them. Now, they will be on the same side, which has “breaking the Internet” potential on gameday.

Clark is one of three Fever players who made Team WNBA, along with Aliyah Boston and Kelsey Mitchell. The Connecticut Sun also have multiple players on Team WNBA: DeWanna Bonner and Brionna Jones.

While the Americans’ 5-on-5 Olympians will make up Team USA, Team WNBA also has a 2024 Olympian: Dearica Hamby of the Los Angeles Sparks will compete on the U.S. 3×3 team.

When Team WNBA faced Team USA in the 2021 All-Star Game before the Tokyo Olympics, the WNBA stars beat the Olympians 93-85, led by MVP Arike Ogunbowale. The Dallas Wings guard is back for Team WNBA this year, too.

Did the right players make the roster? Were there any All-Star snubs? What are some of the matchups we are looking forward to? Michael Voepel, Alexa Philippou and Kevin Pelton break down the All-Star roster.

What was the biggest snub for Team WNBA?

Pelton: Ezi Magbegor. In fact, a case could be made that the Seattle Storm center is the most egregious omission ever from the WNBA All-Star Game. She’s on pace to record more wins above replacement player by my WARP metric than any player not chosen during a year the league played an All-Star Game.

What makes this especially strange is Magbegor was an All-Star a year ago, when the Storm were one of the WNBA’s worst teams. Playing with more talent after the Storm added Skylar Diggins-Smith and Nneka Ogwumike, Magbegor has seen her scoring average drop slightly, but she’s averaging career highs in rebounds (8.8, good for seventh in the WNBA) and blocks (2.2, third) per game.

As the anchor of a top-three defense, Magbegor is a leading contender for Defensive Player of the Year. I had her among my six frontcourt selections in my official media vote, which also included members of the USA team. For coaches not to pick her among the 12 spots on Team WNBA is baffling.

Philippou: Magbegor also earned a vote from me for all the reasons Pelton laid out. Otherwise, there aren’t a ton of obvious snubs. Fellow Aussie Alanna Smith had a strong case as a frontcourt addition, and then there was a jumble of guards (including Betnijah Laney-Hamilton, Diggins-Smith, DiJonai Carrington, Marina Mabrey, Chennedy Carter) who were also in consideration, but I wouldn’t classify any of those backcourt omissions as snubs.

Rhyne Howard (a U.S. 3×3 Olympian) was also in the conversation for a roster spot prior to a recent ankle injury that has sidelined her indefinitely.

Is it a surprise the Fever have three players on Team WNBA team despite where they are in the standings?

Voepel: Not really, all things considered. There was little doubt Clark and Boston were going to make it on fan voting. They finished in the top 10 in voting, as did Hamby and Ogunbowale, along with six Olympians. Boston and Kelsey Mitchell were also both All-Stars last season. With the fans’ votes counting for 50%, you have to view the All-Star Game in the WNBA the same as with other sports. It is as much about which players the fans want to see as it is about who is perceived to be playing the best. Excitement over the Fever has rippled through every WNBA city they have visited, and that energy will be there for the All-Star Game, too.

And good for the Fever. The last several years, they haven’t been a winning franchise, let alone a cool and popular one. Right now, there is an undeniable buzz about them that longtime Fever fans are thrilled to finally be experiencing again.

Philippou: It’s not necessarily surprising, particularly with a format where fan voting is weighed heavily. (That said, Mitchell was a selection from the league’s head coaches.) Still, in a vacuum it’s a bit perplexing that a 13-6 Seattle team, for example, or the Commissioner’s Cup Champion Minnesota Lynx, only have one Team WNBA representative apiece while the Fever, who are still well below .500, have three.

What will be the most interesting teammate or opponent duos in the All-Star Game?

Voepel: The obvious one is Clark and Reese, whose teams have met three times already during the regular season, along with the two high-profile meetings they had in the NCAA tournament in 2023 and 2024. Either Clark or Reese lead all rookies in most statistical categories, and having them on the same side will be must-see TV.

The Aces (four players) and Mercury (three) make up more than half of Team USA, and have no one on Team WNBA. But the WNBA squad will have Jones and Bonner taking on Connecticut teammate Alyssa Thomas for Team USA.

Team WNBA’s Jonquel Jones, who plays in the same Liberty frontcourt as Breanna Stewart, will play against her and New York guard Sabrina Ionescu in the All-Star Game. The Lynx’s top two players, forward Napheesa Collier (Team USA) and guard Kayla McBride (Team WNBA), are also on opposite sides. Same for Seattle forward Nneka Ogwumike (Team WNBA) and guard Jewell Loyd (Team USA).

Philippou: It’s also worth noting that Connecticut’s Bonner and Thomas are fiancees who will be facing each other in Phoenix. They were both All-Stars in 2023 — when Thomas proposed to Bonner in Las Vegas — as well as in 2019 (pre-relationship and before Bonner joined the Sun), but in those instances they were on the same team.

Which team appears to be the favorite?

Voepel: The vibe in 2021 tilted toward Team WNBA, as the players had a little chip on their shoulders against the Olympians.

But speaking of “vibes,” Ogunbowale said last month that she took herself out of the Olympic pool because she thought “politics” played a role in the team selection.

“If I know they’re not picking me, I’m not going to keep going to these [camps] when I know the vibe,” Ogunbowale said on the “Nightcap” podcast. “I’m not going to give you my time if I know the vibe.”

Not being picked for such a hard team to make is no insult — but athletes always look for motivation. Team WNBA has that, while Team USA doesn’t want to lose in an All-Star Game again.

Good as the Olympic team squad is, might there be any concern that it has three members from the Mercury, a team currently under .500? We can expect a lot of energy from Team WNBA. Team USA has to match that to win.

Philippou: The Paris roster is better than the Tokyo one and has a lot of chemistry playing with each other, whether it be from previous Olympics or even the 2022 World Cup. Even the newcomers like Kahleah Copper and Ionescu are playing some of the best basketball of their career right now. Team WNBA will make things interesting as it did in 2021, but it’s hard for me to pick against Team USA this time.

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