Not Enough Room for All of the WNBA’s Stars
By Brian Martin,

The Race to the MVP column will return next week. In its place for All-Star week is a look at some of the stars that we will not see this weekend in Connecticut.

When All-Star rosters are announced, fans and analysts look not only at which players made the teams, but which players were left out. A common question asked is who was the biggest snub? Who was the player most deserving of an All-Star nod that didn’t get enough votes from the fans or coaches to secure a roster spot?

While I do not know the complete results of the coaches’ votes that determined the All-Star reserves, a few names quickly come to mind: Chamique Holdsclaw, Lindsay Whalen, Lindsey Harding, Deanna Nolan, Candice Wiggins, Tammy Sutton-Brown, Betty Lennox and Candace Parker. You can easily make a strong case for any of these players to be included on the All-Star rosters.

But the bigger question is, who would they replace? That is where the argument becomes tough. Personally, as deserving as the players above are, I see no way to justify removing a player from the All-Star team in favor of them. All of the players that made the All-Star rosters – either by fan votes or coaches’ votes – were deserving.

The real problem is that there are more star players than there is room for them on the rosters. And while it may be frustrating that one of your favorite players will not be in Uncasville this weekend, when you look at the bigger picture, this is not a bad problem to have.

It is just another sign of the growing talent level in the WNBA and the influx of new, younger stars to compliment the legends of the game that blazed the trail for them to follow.

In the same year that Lisa Leslie and Tina Thompson are named to their eighth All-Star Game, we welcome eight new faces to the midseason classic. The All-Star Game is all about shining the spotlight on the league’s brightest stars. And this season players like Sancho Lyttle, Nicky Anosike, Erika de Souza, Charde Houston, Sylvia Fowles, Shameka Christon, Jia Perkins and Nicole Powell (in place of the injured Leslie) get to feel that light for the first time.

Before this weekend’s festivities get into full swing, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the great play of some of the WNBA stars that just missed out on being named All-Stars.

Atlanta’s Chamique Holdsclaw returned to the WNBA after nearly two years away from the league and has helped lead the Atlanta Dream to an 8-10 record this season (a huge improvement from last year’s 4-30 season). While her teammates Lyttle and de Souza were named to their first All-Star Game, Holdsclaw had just as strong a case to head to her seventh All-Star. She currently leads the Dream in scoring at 15.1 points per game.

Fans at the All-Star Game will not see local favorite Lindsay Whalen suit up for the Eastern Conference All-Stars. Whalen has had a bit of an up and down year, but with Connecticut surging toward the All-Star break, Whalen has posted some impressive numbers. Take a look at the following performances: 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the Sun's 72-64 win over the Silver Stars in San Antonio, followed by 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a 67-61 win over Indiana to end the Fever's 11-game win streak.

Next we have the same first name with a slightly different spelling with Washington’s Lindsey Harding. Lindsey with an ‘e’ is enjoying her best year in the WNBA. After two injury-shortened seasons in Minnesota, Harding was traded to the Mystics in the offseason and has been everything GM Angela Taylor and head coach Julie Plank had hoped for, posting career-best averages in points (13.5) and assists (5.3).

Detroit’s Deanna Nolan is one of the league’s brightest stars. Her combination of speed, athleticism, dead-eye shooting and clutch performance make her a shoo-in to be in any discussion regarding the best players in the league. However, the four-time All-Star has been riddled with injuries this season that have caused her to miss games and be less effective than her normal self in others. Of course she is still averaging 13.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists a night.

While the Minnesota Lynx sent a pair of players to Connecticut in reserves Houston and Anosike, a case could be made for Candice Wiggins as well. The reigning Sixth Woman of the Year has already claimed a Western Conference Player of the Week honor (in one of the rare weeks that Cappie Pondexter did not win) and has been instrumental in keeping the Lynx in the playoff picture after the loss of All-Star Seimone Augustus.

Seattle and Chicago both sent three players to Uncasville this year and a case could be made that the first-place Fever deserves to send a trio as well. While Katie Douglas and Tamika Catchings were voted in by the fans, Tammy Sutton-Brown came up short in the coaches’ votes for the reserves. Sutton-Brown had an impressive July and even garnered a Player of the Week honor, but was unable to make her third All-Star team.

On a team that features five Olympians, Betty Lennox may have been the Sparks’ most consistent player in the first half of the season. Whether starting or coming off of the bench, Lennox has scored in double figures in every game but three this year and has posted a trio of double-doubles (points and rebounds).

Candace Parker is an interesting case to look at. Has she played at an All-Star level this season? No. But in an event that highlights the brightest stars of the league, last year’s Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player would definitely qualify. In the end, it was the performance on the court that the fans and coaches decided to be the determining factor as opposed to star power and popularity. I, for one, do not fault them. Parker will play in plenty of All-Star Games, just not this one.

Lindsay and Lindsey (Whalen and Harding) both could have been All-Stars this season.
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