If the Mercury-Storm game the other night was one of the best games I've seen this season, the Mystics-Dream game was among the worst.
Honestly, neither team played particularly well. To be totally honest, the game felt like it was almost over at halftime for me -- the Mystics turned the ball over on 37% of their possessions (8 turnovers) and only shot 35% from the field...which was significantly better than their third quarter shooting percentage of 26.3%. The only thing that kept the Mystics in this game was their strong rebounding, including an offensive rebounding rate of 43%. The seven point lead the Dream had felt insurmountable simply because it seemed like their was a lid on the Mystics' basket.
Basically, the Dream didn't have to do a thing to win this game except pick up the Mystics' slop. They didn't really win, the Mystics just lost.
So if you had the great misfortune of watching the Mystics-Dream game last night, I feel for you and won't describe it further lest I trigger a PTSD-type reaction.
Anyway, as I was watching I started wondering how much Marissa Coleman meant to the Mystics. Coleman is actually the perfect piece for this team.
They have two players who can make plays for others in Alana Beard and Lindsey Harding. Beard is also a rather consistent scorer this season. Clearly, they are one of the better rebounding teams in the league. Defensively, they are more than capable.
Coleman just adds another person who can create their own shot. In a game like last night (in which the Dream did not play that well themselves), Coleman could have made up that seven point difference herself...
If that's the case and the return of Coleman translates into more wins, Coleman will have a strong case for rookie of the year in my book. Right now, the team is 3-0 with her and 2-4 without her. If she comes back, even after a 6 week hiatus, and helps the team win games, she will give the rest of the rookie class a run for their money when in comes to Rookie of the Year voting.
Will be interesting to watch.
If the Mercury-Storm game the other night was one of the best games I've seen this season, the Mystics-Dream game was among the worst.
Wednesday night's Mercury-Storm game was one of the better played games I've watched this season, refereeing notwithstanding.
As ESPN's Mechelle Voepel wrote today, part of what makes the Mercury-Storm games so great is that this matchup has "star power":
And by “star” we mean “star,” not just terrific player. Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter, Seattle’s Lauren Jackson, Sue Bird and Swin Cash. And yes, we’re heavy on the UConn/Big East connection here, but that’s part of it. These players have been in the spotlight for a long time.Sometimes when I watch games with that much star power, I find it hard to figure out which player or players contribute the most to the victory or which player is carrying the team or -- even more intriguing -- which non-stars stepped up and really contributed to the team's victory.
Of course, one could respond, "Who cares??? A team wins a game, not individual players." True...and I imagine those folks aren't reading this blog anyway. But ultimately, when it comes down to analyzing a team's strengths and weaknesses, we also want to know what each part of the whole is contributing.
While there are many different ways to think about that, among the most intriguing I've come across is David Sparks' "Credit" statistic that he created last summer. I first used this approach last summer during the Olympics (click here), but have also applied it to a few regular season WNBA games whenever the feeling strikes me (as I did yesterday with the Sky-Monarchs game).
I've applied a lot of Sparks' work to the WNBA, partially because I like the fact that he has come up with a set of statistics to look at player performance, player styles, and team performance. Although he created and weighted his metric for the NBA, they also seem to work pretty well for the WNBA (click here for an explanation of the Credit formula).
Most important to me is that the Credit statistic seems to not only quantify my subjective observations of a game, but also illuminate things that I might have missed during the course of a game or help me figure out who deserves credit other than the players who always get the spotlight.
For example, when I look at the headlines for Wednesday night's Mercury-Storm game, I see a lot of focus on Pondexter and Taurasi. After all, they were the top scorers and the top scorers. However, when I take a look at the credit statistics it looks like another player deserves mention for the Mercury's victory: Tangela Smith.
So how should we understand this metric? And how might it help us analyze a player's contribution to a game?
Here are the Mercury's credit statistics for Wednesday night:
*Note: as described by Sparks on his old site, this does not add up to 100% but is a percentage of the total production of both teams. Therefore, the top players on a team that wins in a blow out would get more credit whereas the top players on a team that wins a tight game would get slightly less.
This is not to say that Tangela Smith is a better player than Diana Taurasi. Neither is it to say that Taurasi is more important -- an argument could be made that since Taurasi demands the attention of the opposing defense, players like Smith are able to take advantage of the relative lack of attention they receive. Nor does this say that Smith is significantly more important than Smith to the team overall -- take Taurasi off of this team and surely they would win a lot less games (that's what Sparks' Boxscores were for).
What credit does tell us is a player's statistical contribution to a game and frames it in terms that we can easily talk about and compare from game to game. For example, we see that in this game, Pondexter, Smith, and Taurasi were by far the most important players in the game, with Pondexter being the most important. If you watched the game, that just about makes sense -- Pondexter was doing everything and her ability to break down her defender, get into the lane, and set up other players was hugely important throughout the game.
Smith's greatest contribution was her rebounding and blocked shots, but she was also extremely efficient shooting, including two threes. In addition, her ability -- along with Le'Coe Willingham -- to provide scoring inside is a huge asset to the Mercury and something that they will likely need to make a serious run in the Western Conference playoffs.
So even though Smith's contributions were valuable to this game, it's not like we should consider her a star on the level of Taurasi. A star's impact on the ebb and flow of a game goes well beyond the final score. And clearly, there's more that goes into a basketball game than scoring.
So how might we contextualize a player's contribution to the final score with some understanding of how they contributed to the ebb and flow of a game?
It seems like pairing plus/minus and credit might be one interesting approach.
I was talking to someone about plus/minus the other day and he mentioned how it doesn't seem to mean very much for basketball game to game. And he's completely right. It can be an extremely misleading statistic on the game to game level because it depends so heavily on matchups, teammates, and in some cases game strategy. He thought it was a better statistic for hockey than basketball because of the way in which hockey flows. Plus/minus works much better to look at over the course of an entire season than from game to game.
However, if we pair plus/minus with credit for one game, I think we get a pretty full picture of what a player has done in a given game.
Take Wednesday night's plus/minus numbers for the Mercury (from Swanny's stats):
Swanier +20 (41-21)
Pondexter +19 (83-64)
Willingham +14 (50-36)
Taurasi +12 (82-70)
T.Smith +5 (71-66)
Bonner +5 (34-29)
Ohlde 0 (31-31)
Mazzante -7 (21-28)
Johnson -8 (52-60)
So suddenly Swanier jumps to the top. How do we understand that? She only played 13 minutes 11 seconds -- should she be playing more? Not necessarily.
Plus/minus tells us how well the team functions when a player is on the floor, not necessarily how much an individual contributes to the team's success.
Swanier did come in and run the offense for the Mercury extremely well. Despite a few small miscues in which she mishandled the ball, she had a pure point rating of 10.25 and an assist ratio of 29.06% and no turnovers. So she gave the team a huge boost off of the bench by helping run the offense...and for the majority of the first half Wednesday night, she did so much better than Temeka Johnson.
But while this tells us a little something about how the game flowed while she was in, it does not necessarily tell us how much she individually contributed to the victory -- it would be silly to claim that a player who only played 13 minutes played a large part in the team's success.
That's what makes the combined plus/minus and Credit numbers of players like Pondexter and Taurasi so impressive -- they had a positive impact on the team when they were on the floor and were also responsible for a majority of the team's production.
So just for the sake of comparison, let's take a look at the Storm.
Wright 10.46%, -12 (67-79)
Cash 10.18%, -13 (68-81)
Jackson 8.69%, -17 (68-85)
Bird 5.84%, 0 (76-76)
Little 5.22%, -11 (59-70)
Johnson 3.49%, -4 (45-49)
Burse 1.94%, 0 (19-19)
Geralds 0.41%, +1 (3-2)
Walker 0.31%, -2 (0-2)
Again here, credit does a little more to illuminate a player's impact on the game despite being on the losing team. While Bird had a neutral (yet best) impact on the team in terms of plus/minus, we also see that she was not exactly individually contributing a whole lot to the team's success while on the floor. And since Credit takes into account the final scoring differential, we also see that performance of the players on the losing team is weighted in terms of their contribution relative to the total production in the game.
So can Credit and plus/minus help us quantify star power?
This seems to move closer to the definition of a star -- being able to individually contribute to the win but also helping the team perform better while on the floor. It's a player that is able to balance between individual and mutual responsibility (in more political terms)...and do so while playing significant minutes.
To me it provides a much more nuanced understanding of a player's contribution to the game than any statistic can accomplish individually...but also doing so in a much simpler fashion than using 7 or 8 statistics like I've used in the past (though something to measure defensive impact would be nice).
Without looking at the numbers right now, I would make an educated guess that the best players in the WNBA (or NBA) are able to make a positive contribution to the team in big minutes while also taking assuming a large portion of the burden to contribute to the team's success. But that is clearly a much larger project...
It must be nice to have the best guard in the Eastern Conference playing for your team.
Especially when you choose to sleepwalk through about 35 minutes of a game and need someone to bail you out at the last minute.
Jia Perkins strengthened her case for being voted into the 2009 All-Star game as a starter, hitting big shots down the stretch to lead the Chicago Sky to a 74-70 win over the Sacramento Monarchs in the UIC Pavilion last night.
However, as good as it must feel to add a game to the win column, once again, the victory cannot leave much for the Sky to feel proud of.
The Sky blew an early 10 point lead, went into the fourth quarter tied, and were down by five late in the fourth before Jia Perkins returned to the game after an awkward fall to give the Sky the necessary jolt of life at the end of the game.
In search of their first road win, Sacramento managed to stay in the game by playing typical Monarchs basketball: playing hard, crashing the offensive boards, and playing a rather methodical, if sloppy, offense. But it’s not really that the Monarchs “crumbled down the stretch” as the Sacramento Bee reports – it’s probably more accurate to say that they reduced it to a chaotic mess of turnovers, free throws, and scattered defense…and Jia Perkins lifted the Sky above the fray.
Aside from the 2nd quarter in which the Monarchs shot 58% on 7-12 shooting from the field, the Monarchs never shot above 33% in any other quarter. Their 21.86% turnover percentage for the game probably didn’t help them much either, though the Sky returned the favor with a 21.51% turnover percentage of their own.
So if the Monarchs never really had complete control of the game, that begs the same old question that people should be tired of hearing from Rethinking Basketball:
What exactly are the Sky doing?
Again, just to contextualize the question: as a distant observer that is not privy to practices, video sessions, or pre-game chalk talks, I do not necessarily expect to fully understand what a professional basketball team is doing play to play. Ultimately, we will never really know what’s going on with any given team if we are not a player or other paid employee.
Nevertheless, it’s obvious when a team is just completely disorderly. But yes, as an outsider, I wasn't with them step for step at every moment: many times the Sky players seemed to be asking, “What are we doing?” about a few seconds before I thought to ask, “What are they doing?”
When they aren’t standing around waiting for one of their post players to take their defender one on one from the wing, they have their guards ignoring their post players and forcing up contested jump shots or drives to the basket that end with blocked shots. And when they did try to settle down and run something, they looked just as confused.
On one play in particular during the third quarter, the Sky brought the ball upcourt, Erin Thorn had the ball at the top of the key, saw Sylvia Fowles on the left block, and zipped a pass right into the crowd. After the play, it looked like Thorn was gesturing to Fowles to say that she expected Fowles to pop out a little on the wing… but Fowles didn't...and Thorn threw a pass to nobody. Who's ever fault it was, it was one of many moments where the Sky’s dysfunction was so evident that you almost had to feel sorry for them.
It’s not really that they started playing better as a team at the end of the game either – Perkins bailed them out by playing aggressive defense, making plays for teammates, and hitting big shots at the end when the team needed it.
So despite the victory, the enduring question, “What are the Sky doing?” still stands.
Basketball is ultimately a team game. And usually, good teams have systems.
Right now, the only system the Sky have going for them is Jia Perkins. So the question becomes, how should they best utilize her talent?
And right now, Perkins is carrying the Sky as a scorer and distributor.
So if for some reason you don’t already think Perkins is an all-star, let me just rehash the facts.
By almost any metric you look at – EFF, MEV, plus/minus, Tendex, WARP, whatever – Jia Perkins is the best guard in the East, if not one of the top guards overall in the WNBA. She gets it done offensively as a scorer and defensively, putting pressure on the other team’s lead guard and picking up skills that shift the momentum of games at critical moments.
Upon returning to the game after an injury scare in the third, Perkins put the breadth of her skills on display in the final minutes of the game, putting pressure on the Monarchs’ guards to help create turnovers, running the offense, getting out and scoring on the fast break, hitting a key three, and hitting clutch free throws to ice the game.
Another way to quantify Perkins’ contribution to the Sky is by looking at David Sparks’ metric for assigning credit to players for their contribution to their team’s final score (that is described in depth here...I also used it for Team USA here). For this particular game, Perkins deserved 15% of the credit for her team’s success, with Candice Dupree and Sylvia Fowles coming next closest hovering right around 10%.
However, while Perkins gets most of the credit for scoring, another major contribution she makes to the team is running their offense. Whatever it is the Sky do with the ball, Perkins does it best.
She has the best point guard numbers on the Sky and compares very favorably to other WNBA point guards in her ability to run a team. She recorded 8 assists last night, had a pure point rating of 10.75 and an assist ratio of 31.74%...all while scoring 17 points on 46.15% shooting from the field.
Those are extremely impressive numbers for someone who most people consider to be primarily a scorer – she is making extremely good decisions with the basketball setting up her teammates in addition to scoring.
So not that it matters who is officially named point guard with Dominique Canty and Jia Perkins in the backcourt, but Perkins is the best lead guard on this team and the team actually plays better when she is doing everything – scoring, passing, and playing defense. While some people fear that giving a scorer distributor responsibilities, that does not seem to be the case with Perkins.
In their 5 wins prior to last night’s game, Perkins had a pure point rating of 4.79, an assist ratio of 21.35%, and a turnover ratio of 7%. In their three losses, she had a -3.48 pure point rating, a 15% assist ratio, and a 14% turnover ratio. In other words, without establishing a strong correlation, we can see that there is at least some sort of pattern of Perkins functioning as more of distributor in the Sky’s wins in addition to scoring.
This is clearly Jia Perkins’ team right now and if they are not going to have a highly structured system that utilizes their post players, it seems that they should be putting the ball in Perkins’ hands and letting her work her magic.
Perkins is currently #7 in WNBA.com’s MVP race, but I think an argument could be made for her to at least be ahead of almost anyone not named Lauren Jackson. She’s having an amazing season, her team is doing well, and she is coming through for her team whenever they need her. If that’s not the definition of a MVP, I don’t know what is.
I actually watched last night’s game to get a look at Kristi Toliver, but apparently she was not feeling well last night. I hope she is able to get healthy soon.
Mouthpiece Sports recently asked Kristi Toliver about whether she can be the Derrick Rose of the WNBA. Aside from the fact that they are both rookie professional basketball players and reside in Chicago, I don't think the comparison is really fair to either player.
WNBA all-star balloting is tough because we have not really seen enough of any player to make a decision about the best in the league.
So I have held off even thinking about it until I had more time to think about it, but with the deadline fast approaching, I feel obligated to make some sort of decisions about who to vote for and thought I would share.
However, as I was reading petrel’s analysis on the Pleasant Dreams Blog, I realized there is at least one glaring omission from the ballot: Sancho Lyttle. From what I’ve watched of the Dream, Lyttle definitely deserves all-star consideration. But then petrel made another good point for those of us who have refused to even look at the ballot to this point: there is only one write-in vote on the web ballot.
So before I unreflectively joined petrel’s Vote for Sancho movement, I had to wonder, who -- if anyone -- most deserves my one write-in vote?
This obviously complicates an already difficult decision.
Further complicating things this year is that the wisdom of crowds typically disappears during All-Star voting…and this season is particularly vulnerable to misguided fan “wisdom”. For example:
- Candace Parker will inevitably receive enough votes to skew the numbers, if not be named the starter (at guard??) in the West (similar to Penny Hardaway in the 1997-1998 season who fans voted as the starter despite playing only 19 games the entire 82 game season). Who knows if she would actually play…
- Seimone Augustus deserves votes as an honorary all-star, which will take votes away from others, but there will be a replacement there.
- Jia Perkins, Nicky Anosike, and Alana Beard will almost inevitably be overlooked in favor of bigger names
- Big name veterans like Lisa Leslie, Becky Hammon, Ticha Penicheiro, and to a lesser extent Deanna Nolan, Lindsay Whalen, and Chamique Holdsclaw are likely to grab votes simply because of name recognition.
During last summer’s Olympics, I tried to look at stats to figure out who would have been most deserving of an all-star selection. So let’s see how those work out this year for the real thing.
What I did
I did something similar to what I did last year with my mock all-star team: first I determined the top 20 players in each conference by looking at their EFF rating (from WNBA.com), Tendex (described at Dougstats.com), and MEV. Surprisingly, a pretty clear top tier of WNBA players emerges from looking at those three metrics.
Next, I compared each of those players based on a Four Factors analysis, in addition to using defensive plus/minus and SPI versatility score.
All those stats are described here:
From there, I picked the best players by position in each conference, with a few of my own subjective interpretations.
Since I had statistics in front of me, I went ahead and selected starters and reserves. However, while I feel rather comfortable with my starters (except for who I would start in the East at guard), I feel much less comfortable with my reserves and really just need more time to watch games before I make a final decision. So consider the reserves tentative.
What my ballot looks like: Yes, vote Sancho Lyttle!
As it turns out, petrel and I have almost identical all-star starters – the only difference being that I would definitely have Fowles as my starting center over Erika Desouza. Defensively, I would argue that Fowles is the better player thus far this season and though not often taken into account in matters of all-star popularity contests, it tips the scales for me.
But the most important similarity between petrel and I is that by almost any metric you look at, Lyttle is one of the most productive players in the league this season and it is therefore a must that she be written in as an all-star starter.
If you do nothing else in your life this week, go to WNBA.com and vote for Lyttle. This is a serious matter that cannot go ignored.
But in case you don’t believe petrel and I, here’s some statistical evidence to back my claim:
First of all, Lyttle is among the best rebounders among the Eastern Conference’s top players with a rebound rate – the percentage of available rebounds she gets – of 10.32%, which is just behind teammate Erika Desouza’s 11.80%. Her defensive plus/minus is also solid at +4.9. But what is most striking is Lyttle’s versatility as a forward.
Not only is she shooting the ball better than any interior player other than Desouza, but she is also among the more versatile players in the East, contributing a little bit of everything for the Dream offensively and defensively. As a starter (4 games) her numbers have been up significantly in every category, so it is reasonable to suggest that she is worthy of an all-star starting spot.
Write her in!
Aside from Lyttle here are three other interesting battles for starting spots:
East center: Erika Desouza vs.Sylvia Fowles vs. Janel McCarville
If you follow the logic that Lyttle is one of the top power forwards in the East right now since being named the starter for Atlanta, it logically follows that Desouza is a center...which really complicates the choice for center.
Fowles leads the league in rebounding and field goal percentage at the moment in addition to having an Eastern conference high 13.26 rebounding rate. Fowles is also the best defensive center in the East with a defensive plus/minus rating of +10.6, better than McCarville (+6.4) and well ahead of Desouza (-2.2).
However, arguments could be made for Desouza and McCarville. Their strength is that they are both much more versatile players than Fowles. Both have the ability to shoot from beyond the paint, while McCarville’s passing ability certainly makes her a huge asset for any team. For whatever it’s worth, Desouza has a better Tendex and MEV rating than McCarville or Fowles.
All three of them struggle mightily with turnovers, being the most turnover prone players of the 41 top players I looked at by a considerable margin.
Ultimately, I have to go with Fowles because having a strong defensive center who can rebound and score inside is a valuable commodity. I like McCarville a lot, but Fowles seems to be doing the things you like to see from a center. Desouza has put together a strong season, but I’ll have to pay closer attention to her defense before making a decision this year.
West guard: Sue Bird vs. Becky Hammon
Becky Hammon is putting up great numbers so far this season, but Sue Bird is clearly among the best – if not the best – point guards in the game. Really, the choice between these two is a matter of taste – they both have a huge influence on their team’s success. Bird is undoubtedly the better facilitator, Hammon is by far the better scorer, and they both do a little of both. Right now, Hammon has the better Tendex and MEV ratings.
I am going to go with Bird here simply because I like the way she plays, but there is certainly a strong argument in favor of Hammon here. If there is one tipping point, it might be defense – Bird has a defensive plus/minus of 12.1 to Hammon’s 4.1. It’s really early to rely entirely on that number, but it’s the one thing I can point to right now that clearly lifts Bird above Hammon.
East guard: Alana Beard vs. Lindsay Whalen vs. Katie Douglas
If you go strictly by the big productivity metrics, Alana Beard is clearly one of the top two guards in the East along with Jia Perkins. However, I find it odd that when you break her game down into her contribution to the Four Factors, the argument starts to weaken and make room for both Whalen and Douglass.
The big glaring statistical weakness for Beard is defensive plus/minus – she ranks last in the East with a rating of -17.5. This comes as a surprise to me because I generally consider her a rather talented defender. However, she does not exactly separate herself in any particular statistical category either – Douglas is a slightly better shooter this season, Whalen is probably a slightly better all-around player (passing ability and rebounding separating the two), and Beard turns the ball over at a higher rate than any of the top guards in the East (13.3% of the time, currently averaging more turnovers than assists).
While petrel argues that, “You'd just have to be a blind home rooter not to pick Alana Beard of the Mystics for an All-Star start”, I’m not sure it’s that clear cut.
Even the argument that she is carrying the Mystics doesn’t give her a clear advantage over Whalen, who has carried the Sun to an identical record 4-3 record as the Mystics. Douglas could easily get the nod with it being so close given that she is a key part of the East’s best team.
For this one, I argue that any one of these three is worthy of an all-star starting spot. However, I’m going with Beard because she is one of the best on-ball defenders in the game as far as I’m concerned, regardless of what her statistics say.
If the Mystics fall apart this season, then I’ll stand corrected.
Petrel articulated the reasons for the rest of my starters pretty well already in his all-star post. I would just add that Pondexter, like Perkins, also ranked very well in my point guard rankings (even though they are not point guards, which is especially impressive), which is just one more reason that she should absolutely be all-star starters.
So here are my 2009 all-star starters:
G: Sue Bird
G: Diana Taurasi
F: Cappie Pondexter
F: Lauren Jackson
G: Jia Perkins
G: Alana Beard
F: Tamika Catchings
F: Sancho Lyttle
C: Sylvia Fowles
What about the reserves?
Having spent the time crunching numbers I also have some initial thoughts about reserves, although I will come back to this around the time when coaches actually announce them.
In the West, the obvious (to me) are Becky Hammon and Temeka Johnson, both of whom are playing extremely well this season and could make a case as starters if all-world UCONN duo Bird and Taurasi weren’t already occupying those spots.
At Western center, there could be an interesting debate between Ruth Riley and Demya Walker. While Walker is probably the better defensive center based upon defensive plus/minus, Riley has a significantly better Tendex and MEV as well as a higher true shooting percentage and rebounding rate. In fact, right now, Riley has the third highest rebounding percentage in the conference behind Sophia Young and Lauren Jackson.
At forward, things get a little tougher and another person who didn’t make the ballot should be considered strongly by coaches. As mentioned above, Sophia Young is leading the West in rebounding percentage which I think gets her the nod there, despite a rather poor shooting year. Nicole Powell is having a solid season and could make a case for a spot as well, being one of the more versatile players in the conference.
But the surprise pick at reserve forward might be Charde Houston who is quietly one of the most versatile players in the league this season. She is not doing any one thing particularly well relative to the rest of the conference, but she’s doing a little bit of everything, which will likely be part of the Lynx’s success in Seimone Augustus’ absence. The question is whether she can keep that up.
The big snub right now then might be Candice Wiggins, who just won Player of the Week, but has struggled up until that point this season. Her numbers, aside from points per game, are actually very similar to Tanisha Wright for the season. However, by the time the coaches choose reserves, Wiggins could certainly move ahead of Houston, Powell, and Young as one would assume that she will have to take a larger role on the team with Augustus out.
G Becky Hammon
C Demya Walker
F Nicole Powell
F Sophia Young
G Temeka Johnson
F Charde Houston
On the Eastern side, I find the reserve battles to be much less clear.
If you did not pick Fowles as your starting center, then you almost have to agree that she is deserving of a reserve spot. If Fowles is the starter, then I really think it’s a toss up between McCarville and Desouza, following the logic presented earlier. I’m going with Desouza as the reserve right now because she has been a much stronger interior player to this point in the season.
Per the discussion above, Douglas and Whalen get spots as two of the top players in the East who are not starters.
Shameka Christon is one of the top scorers game in the league right now, including shooting 48.8% from the three point line on 43 attempts and having the lowest turnover percentage of anyone among the top 21 players in the East.
The last two spots are going to be rather difficult.
Crystal Langhorne is right behind Sylvia Fowles as one of the top rebounders in the East.
Lindsey Harding is having a great season and would be a lock for the all-star game if she were shooting better.
Asjha Jones is not playing particularly well, but has been solid.
Taj McWilliams-Franklin is rebounding well, but having a rather down scoring year and a high turnover percentage.
Ultimately, I would go with Candice Dupree, who I like…and has been an effective weapon for the Sky. A potential surprise might be Crystal Langhorne, who is a strong offensive rebounder, has the second best rebounding rate in the East, and has vastly improved her scoring ability. However, she has not started a game this season...so I'm going with Jones...
C: Erika Desouza
G: Lindsay Whalen
G: Katie Douglas
F: Shameka Christon
F: Asjha Jones
F: Candice Dupree
These reserve selections will of course change as we get to see them play more games…so please consider those tentative…
Lyttle Thriving In Starting Role For Dream (for an emotional reason to join the Write in Sancho Movement)
Rookies DeWanna Bonner and Marissa Coleman were in the top 20 in their respective conferences but neither could really make a serious case for an all-star spot. Angel McCoughtry is the only other player anywhere close to consideration. That does foreshadow my upcoming rookie rankings well with Bonner and McCoughtry the clear frontrunners. Bonner is on my radar and as we see more of her, I might actually slide her onto the Western squad over Sophia Young.
In case you are interested, Phoenix and Indiana had the most players in the top 20 in their respective conferences with five each. But really, that’s because I was feeling generous, and added Tammy Sutton-Brown who was #21 in the east.
Statistically, it would be really difficult to argue that Lisa Leslie should be an all-star in her final season…even if some serious injuries occurred. I’m sure she’ll be playing regardless as part of a WNBA send-off, but it’s unfortunate that someone who is outplaying her this season will lose out on an all-star nod.
I've spent some time looking over the all-star ballot and will post those tomorrow.
For the record, my starters are very similar to petrel's picks... so if you're not sure on who to vote for, vote with us!
Also coming soon are some initial rookie rankings... sort of tough this year with no real superstar in the making... but interesting nonetheless..