WNBA All-Star snubs: Who had worthy cases to join Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese?

The 2024 WNBA All-Star Game will feature rookie sensations Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese as teammates for the first time when Team WNBA looks to upset Team USA on July 20. It is the second time the game will be played in the Olympic year format.

The Team WNBA All-Stars could surely use Ezi Magbegor, one of the league’s best rim protectors and perhaps the biggest All-Star snub. The Seattle Storm star was left off the team that was determined by a combination of fan, player, media and coach voting. There weren’t many clear snubs on the team, but the top ones have one main thing in common: defense.

Magbegor had the most solid case for what would have been her second All-Star nod. The fifth-year center is a defensive standout for the Storm’s third-ranked defense (93.8 defensive rating). The 2023 All-Star ranks third in blocks (2.2 bpg), seventh in rebounds (8.8 rpg) and 10th in steals (1.6 spg).

Defense often isn’t credited by voters as highly as offensive output, but she hasn’t been too shabby on that side of the ball either. She’s averaging 13.4 points on 50.5% shooting and hitting 90.9% from the line (ranking fifth). She’s a leading Defensive Player of the Year contender, ranking third in defensive win shares and fourth in overall win shares. Of the Her Hoop Stats top 10 players in win shares, she is the only one not playing in the All-Star Game.

The league did not release the full list of 36 vote-getters, so Magbegor might not have been in the voting pool for coaches to consider. She could have her shot at shutting down Team USA in Paris. Magbegor will likely be named to the Australian national team this month.

Smith is the No. 11 player on the Her Hoop Stats win shares rankings. Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said last week before the Commissioner’s Cup championship game that Smith should be receiving All-Star votes.

“She’s a very natural talent, basketball player-wise,” Reeve said. “I think in terms of an All-Star, I love these stories where it takes time in our league. It takes time. Five, six years of playing. You get your confidence and you really start to understand your identity. That’s where [Alanna’s] at.”

Smith is in her sixth season and first with the Lynx, the reigning Commissioner’s Cup champions who boast the league’s best defense (91.3 rating). Her 2 blocks per game rank fourth behind Cameron Brink (2.3), A’ja Wilson (2.3) and Magbegor. She’s also shooting 45% from 3-point range, fifth best in the league. Smith is also in contention for the Australian national team.

Laney-Hamilton is the Liberty’s star defender and more often than not locks up the opponent’s best perimeter player. She’s only been named to one All-Star team in 2021, which was her first season in New York.

She missed some games during the All-Star voting period, which could have hurt her chances, and is averaging a middling 12.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.4 steals. But her 13.2 plus-minus leads all players, and she’s shown out in games against star shooters, including the Liberty’s wins against the Fever and Clark.

Bridget Carleton was named to the Canadian national team earlier Tuesday, as was Washington Mystics rookie sensation Aaliyah Edwards. It’s hard to say either did enough to bump off the All-Stars above them, though.

Washington did not put any players on the All-Star teams. The Dream, Sparks, Wings and Sky had one each. The Fever put three on the team for only the second time in franchise history, per Across the Timeline.

Phoenix Mercury point guard Natasha Cloud is averaging 7.3 assists per game, second behind Alyssa Thomas (7.5). She’s also one of the league’s best defenders on the perimeter. But the Mercury’s offense is middle-of-the-pack and outside of steals (1.7 spg), none of Cloud’s other stats jump off the page. Storm point guard Skylar Diggins-Smith is in a similar position. DiJonai Carrington, the Sun’s defensive star who has taken a step up this year as a starter, was also in consideration.