2022 WNBA All-Star Game preview

July 10, 2022
Sports NewsBasketball

📗 The history

The MLB hosted the first-ever All-Star Game (ASG) in pro sports back in 1933 with great success, encouraging the NBA to launch its own edition in 1951, five years after the league’s inception. It was a no-brainer for the W to get in on the fun and the inaugural WNBA ASG was held in 1999, a few years after the league’s first season.

  • That first W contest featured a sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden, a national anthem performance from Whitney Houston and a matchup highlighted by W legends including Sheryl Swoopes, Cynthia Cooper and Lisa Leslie. Nothing like the ’90s.
  • With the exception of Olympic years, 2010 (replaced by the exhibition Stars at the Sun event) and 2020 (canceled due to COVID-19), the ASG's been held annually ever since.

🏀 How it works

This year, 10 All-Star starters were selected by a mix of 50% fan, 25% WNBA player and 25% media vote. Then, 12 additional reserve (aka bench) players were chosen by the WNBA head coaches.

  • The Las Vegas Aces’ A’ja Wilson and the Seattle Storm’s Breanna Stewart received the highest fan vote totals, earning them the honor of being named team captains.
  • The Storm’s Sue Bird and Minnesota Lynx’s Sylvia Fowles were also named honorary co-captains, as both are set to retire at the end of the season (still in denial).

From there, the captains drafted from the player pool (starters and reserves) regardless of conference, meaning today’s squads each include a mix of hoopers from East and West. Best of both worlds, baby.

♠️ Team Wilson

The captains: Averaging 18.5 points and a league-leading 10.1 rebounds per game, it’s no wonder the 2020 MVP topped the fan voting. Wilson’s never missed an ASG in her five seasons in the league and now will serve as a captain for the second time in her young career. Queen sh!t.

  • Fittingly, Team Wilson will be co-captained by W royalty, Sylvia Fowles. The league’s all-time leader in rebounds, this will be Fowles’ eighth All-Star appearance.

The starters: Wilson will have a familiar face in teammate Kelsey Plum, who’s making her All-Star debut after leading the high-flying Aces in scoring throughout the first half of the season. Team Wilson also boasts another first-timer, the NY Liberty’s Sabrina “Triple-Double” Ionescu (pronounced yo-NESS-coo).

  • And rounding out the squad is none other than seven-time All-Star, reigning W champ and hometown hero, the Chicago Sky’s Candace Parker, who knows a little something about triple-doubles herself.

A player to watch: The Atlanta Dream’s Rhyne Howard. The 2022 No. 1 overall pick, Howard’s already set a handful of records in her rookie season, and now she’s the lone member of the 2022 class on an All-Star roster.

⛈️ Team Stewart

The captains: A Storm could be brewing in the Windy City with the dynamic Seattle duo of Stewart and Bird joining forces for their fourth and 13th (!!!) All-Star appearances, respectively.

  • Stewie leads the league in scoring (21 points per game) while Bird holds countless records, including most All-Star appearances, assists and games played.

The starters: The reigning league MVP, Connecticut Sun star Jonquel Jones has been a force on both ends of the floor. She leads the Sun with 14.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, and is known for her highlight-reel defensive stops. So ready for a block party.

  • Jones will be joined by another top presence in the paint, seven-time All-Star Nneka Ogwumike (pronounced oh-gwoo-MIH-kay) of the LA Sparks.
  • As for the other guard, the Aces’ Jackie Young will make her All-Star debut and share ball handling duties with Bird. An epic rookie-vet one-two punch.

A player to watch: The 2021 All-Star Game MVP, Arike Ogunbowale (pronounced ah-REE-kay oh-GOON-boh-WAH-lay) of the Dallas Wings. Ogunbowale is known for showing up in big moments, and she did just that last year, dropping a whopping 26 points in her All-Star debut. Mamba Mentality on full display.

📺 How to tune in

No Sunday Scaries here — thefestivities tip off today at 1 p.m. ET, airing on ABC in the U.S. and TSN3 in Canada. And if you’d like to follow along behind the scenes, check out our on-the-ground coverage over on Instagram, @thegistusa and @thegistca. Ballin’.