Nine First-Time All-Stars Set to Play in July 22 Game at Seattle (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
NEW YORK – Reigning regular-season MVP Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks, reigning Rookie of the Year Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm and WNBA scoring leader Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury were selected by the league’s head coaches as reserves for Verizon WNBA All-Star 2017, the WNBA announced today.
Stewart is one of six reserves named as an All-Star for the first time. With three starters also earning their first selection, a total of nine players – seven from the Eastern Conference and two from the Western Conference – have been picked to make their All-Star debut at Verizon WNBA All-Star 2017 on Saturday, July 22 at KeyArena in Seattle (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC).
Ogwumike and Griner, both four-time All-Star selections, were voted to the West frontcourt with Stewart. The West reserves also feature guards Seimone Augustus of the Minnesota Lynx, Skylar Diggins-Smith of the Dallas Wings and Chelsea Gray of the Sparks. Augustus and Diggins-Smith are All-Star veterans with seven and three selections, respectively, while Gray is a first-time pick.
The East reserves are highlighted by Indiana Fever forward Candice Dupree, who joins Cappie Pondexter and Tina Thompson as the only players in league history to be selected as an All-Star with three different teams. Dupree represented the East in 2006, 2007 and 2009 as a member of the Chicago Sky and was on the West in 2014 and 2015 with the Mercury.
Two-time All-Star Stefanie Dolson of Chicago joins Dupree as a reserve in the East frontcourt. The conference’s four other reserves are all first-time All-Stars: Alyssa Thomas of the Connecticut Sun and Elizabeth Williams of the Atlanta Dream in the frontcourt, along with guards Layshia Clarendon of the Dream and Allie Quigley of the Sky. The East also has three first-time All-Stars in the starting lineup with Atlanta’s Tiffany Hayes and Connecticut’s Jonquel Jones and Jasmine Thomas.
Verizon WNBA All-Star 2017 will feature nine former No. 1 overall picks. Eight of those players will suit up for the West: Bird (the top pick in 2002), Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi (2004), Augustus (2006), Los Angeles’ Candace Parker (2008), Minnesota’s Maya Moore (2011), Ogwumike (2012), Griner (2013) and Stewart (2016). Tina Charles (2010) of the New York Liberty will represent the East.
Griner, along with East starter Elena Delle Donne of the Washington Mystics, will miss Verizon WNBA All-Star 2017 due to injury. On July 14, Griner suffered knee and ankle injuries and Delle Donne sustained a sprained ankle. WNBA President Lisa Borders will select the replacements for Griner and Delle Donne.
Following are the reserves for Verizon WNBA All-Star 2017:
Eastern Conference Reserves
Layshia Clarendon, Dream: The first-time All-Star leads the WNBA in assists with 6.9 per game, nearly double her career high. A 2013 first-round draft pick by the Indiana Fever, she has flourished since being traded to Atlanta before the 2016 season and becoming a full-time starter.
Stefanie Dolson, Sky: In her first season with Chicago after being acquired from Washington in an offseason trade, Dolson earns her second All-Star nod. The fourth-year pro ranks second among Sky players in scoring (14.2 ppg) and rebounding (5.8 rpg), both career-high marks.
Candice Dupree, Fever: Indiana’s leader in scoring (13.9 ppg) and rebounding (5.5 rpg) is an All-Star for the sixth time in her 12 WNBA seasons. She is the first player in league history to represent one conference as an All-Star and then the other before again representing the conference for which she was first an All-Star.
Allie Quigley, Sky: The two-time WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year (2014 and 2015) is now a first-time All-Star. A regular starter for the first time in her nine WNBA seasons, Quigley ranks fourth in the East in scoring (16.4 ppg; five points above her career high) and third in three-point shooting percentage (.427, 38-of-89).
Alyssa Thomas, Sun: With career-high averages in scoring (13.8 ppg), rebounding (6.5 rpg), assists (4.9 apg) and steals (1.6 spg), Thomas has helped Connecticut overcome a 1-5 start to post the third-best record in the league (12-8). She and All-Star starters Jasmine Thomas and Jonquel Jones became the first trio of teammates in WNBA history to earn Player of the Week honors in three consecutive weeks.
Elizabeth Williams, Dream: The reigning WNBA Most Improved Player joins teammates Hayes and Clarendon as a first-time All-Star selection. The third-year pro ranks third among East players in rebounding (8.0 rpg).
Western Conference Reserves
Seimone Augustus, Lynx: This marks the seventh All-Star selection for Augustus, a three-time WNBA champion, six-time All-WNBA pick and the 2011 WNBA Finals MVP. The Lynx’s career leader in points (5,333) and fields goals (2,159), she is No. 2 in the WNBA in three-point field goal percentage this season (.467, 14-of-30).
Skylar Diggins-Smith, Wings: This is the third All-Star selection for Diggins-Smith, the third pick in the “Three to See” WNBA Draft of 2013 that also featured Griner and Delle Donne. She was voted to the All-Star Game as a starter in 2014 and 2015, the latter as the top vote-getter among West players despite suffering a season-ending knee injury after nine games. She ranks fifth in the league in assists (5.6 apg).
Chelsea Gray, Sparks: A first-time All-Star, Gray has thrived in her first year as a full-time starter and leads the league in three-point shooting percentage (.509, 29-of-57). A first-round pick of Connecticut in 2014, she was acquired by Los Angeles in a 2016 draft-day trade in which the Sparks sent the draft rights to Jones to the Sun.
Brittney Griner, Mercury: A four-time All-Star selection (she was voted as a starter in 2013, 2014 and 2015), Griner leads the WNBA in scoring (22.3 ppg; nearly seven points above her career best) and blocks (2.5 bpg). She is a two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year (2014 and 2015).
Nneka Ogwumike, Sparks: The reigning WNBA regular-season MVP earns her fourth All-Star selection. She is third in the league in scoring (20.1 ppg) and field goal percentage (.596, 137-of-230) while helping the defending champion Sparks to the second-best record in the WNBA (13-5).
Breanna Stewart, Storm: A near unanimous pick as the 2016 WNBA Rookie of the Year (38 of 39 votes), Stewart will represent the hometown Storm at Verizon WNBA All-Star 2017 in her first All-Star appearance. She ranks fourth in the league in rebounding (8.9 rpg), fifth in scoring (19.4 ppg) and sixth in blocks (1.5 bpg).
In selecting the reserves, the 12 WNBA head coaches voted for six players in their own conference: two guards, three frontcourt players and a player at either position. Coaches were not permitted to vote for players on their own team.