Comparing potential starters for 2005 All-Star Game in Connecticut

Ballot Breakdown 05: East Forwards

June 9-- Balloting for WNBA All-Star 2005 is under way. To give you a better idea of the top voting options, will break down all six positions -- West guards, forwards and centers, and East guards, forwards and centers -- over the coming weeks.

Today's Ballot Breakdown covers the Eastern Conference forwards, listed in alphabetical order. This is one of the toughest categories with many desrving choices, including Catchings, Ford and McWilliams-Franklin. Read up on the nominees, then cast your vote and help select the starters for the 2005 All-Star Game in Connecticut on July 9. (Note: All stats are through games played on June 7.)

Elena Baranova, Liberty
Averages: 5.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.2 APG
Breakdown: Elena came straight from the Russian league to playing with the Liberty and probably could have used a rest. The return of Ann Wauters to the lineup means that Elena's scoring numbers have dropped slightly, but she is still one of the most dangerous inside-outside threats in the game and has as much experience as anyone in the game

Swin Cash, Shock
Averages: N/A
Breakdown: Cash's presence on the ballot (the names are chosen in the preseason) brings up the age-old dilemma of whether to vote for a player strictly based on this season's performance or her recent career production. When healthy, Cash is one of the top players in the world. However, she has yet to play a game in 2005 as she recovers from a knee injury.

Tamika Catchings, Fever
Averages: 15.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.5 APG
Breakdown: Quite simply one of the most complete player in the WNBA, Catchings is once again leading the Fever is most of the important statistical categories. She is a perennial MVP candidate this season and continues to both dominate and make her teammates better.

Katie Douglas, Sun
Averages: 11.3 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 3.8 APG
Breakdown: A reliable scorer and a deadly three-point shooter, Douglas also proved her worth as a defender in last year's playoffs. Her competitiveness and emotion on the court are contagious for the Sun, a team with good playoff experience and great chemistry.

Cheryl Ford, Shock
Averages: 10.0 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 1.8 APG
Breakdown: One of only two players to be averaging a double-double so far this season, Ford is a rebounding machine and can also contribute with points on the offensive end of the court. Now in her third season, the 2003 Rookie of the Year is maturing into a fierce, but heady, competitor.

Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Sun
Averages: 18.8 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.8 APG
Breakdown: Having perhaps the best season of her career, Taj switched from the center position back to her natural power forward this season with the arrival of Margo Dydek and has reaped the benefits. She is among the league leaders in scoring and rebounding and is as deserving as any forward in the league to make the All-Star team.

DeLisha Milton-Jones, Mystics
Averages: 10.5 PPG, 4.17 RPG, 1.0 APG
Breakdown: In her first season in the Eastern Conference since being traded to the Mystics, Milton-Jones has put up solid numbers and bounced back from a season-ending knee injury a year ago.

Murriel Page, Mystics
Averages: 3.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.7 APG
Breakdown: A solid contributor who plays hard on defense, Page is one of the more underrated players in the WNBA. Her numbers may not be as impressive as some of the other choices, but Mystics fans lead the league in attendance and will exert a powerful influence at the ballot box.

Crystal Robinson, Liberty
Averages: 8.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.2 APG
Breakdown: Another one of the under-heralded players in the WNBA, Robinson has been a steady force for the Liberty almost since the beginning. She hits big threes, creates for her teammates and is always matched up against the opponent's best player.

Tangela Smith, Sting
Averages: 12.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.5 APG
Breakdown: The trade from Sacramento to Charlotte in the offseason did not cause Smith to skip a beat. Even in the Eastern Conference, Smith has maintained her double-digit scoring average and is pulling down more than five rebounds per game.

Tammy Sutton-Brown, Sting
Averages: 9.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 0.5 APG
Breakdown: An All-Star in 2002, Sutton-Brown seems poised and ready to duplicate the feat again this season. Sutton-Brown may have to pick up more of the scoring for the Sting this season, and with top pick Janel McCarville out of the lineup with an injury, she will be asked to carry even more of the load for the Sting.

Natalie Williams, Fever
Averages: 5.7 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.0 APG
Breakdown: She has already announced that 2005 will be her last season competing in the WNBA, so what better way to send off this perennial All-Star than with one last moment in the (Mohegan) Sun? Williams is a popular favorite player among her peers and has represented the game and the league with class.