The Phoenix Mercury’s Brittney Griner and the Los Angeles Sparks’ Chelsea Gray were the first two players selected Tuesday in the WNBA All-Star Game draft.
Team captains Elena Delle Donne of the Washington Mystics and A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces took turns making selections to fill out their 10-player rosters, with Delle Donne going first to pick the All-Starters because she was the leading vote-getter in fan balloting.
The game will be played Saturday afternoon at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, the Aces’ home court.
Delle Donne chose Griner, the league’s leading scorer at 18.9 points per game, to go with Delle Donne’s 17.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
Wilson, one of three All-Stars from the Aces, then selected Gray, the Sparks guard who is averaging 13.2 points, 5.5 assists and 4.1 rebounds.
Wilson injured her left ankle Friday in the Aces’ 69-66 loss in Seattle and won’t be playing in the game. Wilson is averaging 15.8 points and 6.6 rebounds.
Delle Donne then used the third pick on Seattle guard Jewell Loyd (14.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists per game), and Wilson countered with one of her Las Vegas teammates, guard Kayla McBride (15.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists).
Delle Donne’s other two picks in the first round were Jonquel Jones of Connecticut, the league’s leading rebounder at 10.2 per game, and Kia Nurse of New York, whose 39 made 3-pointers are tied for fourth-best in the WNBA.
Wilson’s last two picks for starters were Las Vegas’ Liz Cambage (15.9 points, 8.3 rebounds per game) and Seattle’s Natasha Howard (18.4 points, 83 rebounds).
The remainder of the selections for Wilson’s team were Sylvia Fowles of Minnesota, Diamond DeShields of Chicago, Allie Quigley of Chicago, Tina Charles of New York, Erica Wheeler of Indiana, Candice Dupree of Indiana and Odyssey Sims of Minnesota.
Delle Donne rounded out her roster with Kristi Toliver of Washington, DeWanna Bonner of Phoenix, Nneka Ogwumike of Los Angeles, Courtney Vandersloot of Chicago, Napheesa Collier of Minnesota, and Alyssa Thomas of Connecticut.
The captains then pulled off an All-Star trade, with Charles going to Delle Donne’s squad and Collier moving to Wilson’s team. Collier had been named an All-Star in place of the injured Wilson.
Another All-Star trade involved the coaching staffs: Aces coach Bill Laimbeer and his assistants will lead Team Wilson, while Team Delle Donne will be guided by the Mystics’ Mike Thibault and his staff.
–Field Level Media