Chicago’s second-overall pick rookie and top vote getter Elena Delle Donne and number one-overall pick Brittney Griner will miss their very first All-Star Game. Delle Donne suffered a concussion; Erica DeSouza will replace her. Tina Charles will replace Delle Donne in the East starting lineup. Griner suffered a left knee injury; Tina Thompson will replace her. Rebekkah Brunson will replace Griner as a starter. Had Delle Donne and Griner both played, it would have been the first time in league history two rookies from the same class started in an All-Star Game. There are many other bells and whistles for fans not to overlook the 11th WNBA All-Star Game.
Number one replaces number one
Tina Thompson, the number one-overall pick by the Houston Comets in the inaugural 1997 WNBA season, will replace the recent 2013 number one-overall pick of the Phoenix Mercury, Brittney Griner. League President Laurel J. Richie announced Thompson as the replacement. She will go down as arguably one of the greats. Thompson is a four-time WNBA champion, the league’s all-time scoring leader, and the only player to participate in every WNBA season. This will be Thompson’s ninth and final All-Star Game. At age 38 and entering her 17th season, Thompson announced she will retire at season’s end. The league’s all-time leader in minutes played is enjoying yet another productive season, averaging 12.3 points and 5.0 rebounds for the Storm.
9 first timers
The Mohegan Sun Arena, the regular-season home of the Connecticut Sun, hosted the festivities in 2005 and 2009. In both years, the West team prevailed. The 2013 All-Star Game actually features nine first-time All-Stars. The record is 10, however there is no reason to miss the next generation of the WNBA.
The East vs the Lynx
A portion of the Western team is comprised of Minnesota Lynx players including Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson and Lindsay Whalen. The West will also be led by Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve and the Minnesota coaching staff (due to Minnesota’s trip to the WNBA Finals last year). The Lynx closed out their first half of the season with a league-best 14-3 record. The fans and coaches rewarded the best team in the first half and as a result, the West team will have a Minnesota look to it. This will be just the seventh time — and second time in as many All-Star Games for Minnesota — that a team has had four or more All-Stars.
Rutgers back court
While their time under legendary coach C. Vivian Stringer did not overlap, a former Rutgers duo will team up on Saturday as they represent the starting backcourt for the East All-Star team. As a senior at Rutgers, New York’s Cappie Pondexter helped recruit Chicago’s Epiphanny Prince. Both high-scoring guards listed at 5-foot-9, scouts say Prince and Pondexter have similar overall games. The players agree.
The Washington Mystics enter the break as the third seed in the East one seed above the defending champion Indiana Fever. The Mystics have been one of the best stories of the season’s first half having already surpassed their win total in each of the past two seasons. Washington won only five games all of last season including losing its last 13 of 18 games into the 2012-13 season. The Mystics have two All-Stars: Ivory Latta and Crystal Langhorne. Latta is averaging 15 points and five assists a contest, Langhorne is averaging 13 points and seven rebounds.
- WNBA All-Star reserves named, Seattle only team not represented (blogs.seattletimes.com)
- Lynx’s Brunson Replaces Griner As WNBA All-Star Starter (minnesota.cbslocal.com)