Zellous Deserves All-Star Opportunity

By Tom Rietmann | July 16, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS -- As WNBA head coaches ponder their ballots for the Eastern Conference All-Star reserves, they'd be wise to keep the name of Shavonte Zellous in mind.

The Indiana Fever's Zellous has developed into one of the steadiest scorers and most consistent overall players in the league. She and Chicago's Elena Delle Donne are the only two players in the WNBA who have scored in double figures in every 2013 game played by their teams. In short, Zellous is turning in All-Star-worthy production week after week.

Take it from Fever forward Tamika Catchings, who knows something about being an All-Star.

“(Zellous) deserves it. She deserves the opportunity,” said Catchings, who is expected to be picked by fans for her eighth All-Star appearance. “She definitely has showcased the talent she has, not just this season but also last year going into the end of the regular season and then the playoffs.”

In truth, Zellous could also be selected as an East starter by fans, but in early returns released July 2, she was 13th overall among East guards and frontcourt players.

The WNBA All-Star Game is set for July 27 at Uncasville, Conn. The game's starters, selected by fans' voting, will be announced Thursday night during the Phoenix-Los Angeles game on ESPN2. The Eastern and Western Conference reserves, who are picked by the coaches, will be announced on Tuesday (July 23) during the New York-Indiana game on ESPN2.

Zellous, a 5-foot-10 guard, is averaging 16.1 points a game, 11th in the WNBA. Her 3-point field goal percentage (.424) is eighth in the league. She plays an average of 32.8 minutes a game, which ranks sixth.

Kelly Krauskopf, the Fever's president and general manager, points to how Zellous thrived under the pressure of helping to lead her team this year while it battled to overcome a spate of early injuries.

“It really started with how she surged as a player last year,” Krauskopf said, referring to Zellous' clutch shooting and a 30-point performance for the WNBA champions in Game 3 of the league Finals. “Her second half of the (2012) season through the playoffs showed the next level that she has gotten to in her game.

“She's one of the top guards in the WNBA,” Krauskopf added. “She's established herself.”

For Zellous, it's been a five-year process since joining the league. Drafted in the first round in 2009 by Detroit, the University of Pittsburgh graduate arrived in Indianapolis in midseason of 2010 after the Fever made a trade with Tulsa. Detroit's WNBA team moved to Tulsa following Zellous' rookie year.

Zellous became a full-time starter in 2012. She averaged 7.5 points during the regular season and elevated that to 10.6 as Indiana made its postseason run to the league title. Known mostly as a slashing and driving player early in her career, Zellous worked hard in 2012 and in Turkey during the past winter to develop her 3-point shot.

“She comes in early and she stays late to work on her shot,” said Fever Coach Lin Dunn. “Now that she has added a consistent 3-pointer, it just makes her so dangerous.

“I think she has a great opportunity to be voted in,” Dunn added about the All-Stars. “I don't see that many guards having a better first half of the season than she is having.”

Perhaps Zellous' most noteworthy accomplishment so far in 2013 is her streak of double-digit scoring. During many of those 13 games, opposing defenses ramped up their efforts against her since so many of the Fever's other scorers were out with injuries. Still, Zellous produced.

“It's not like it's an easy thing,” Catchings said about consistently scoring in double figures. “I don't think Z consciously thinks about it. It's just a matter of how she plays the game, her aggressiveness to the basket, her jump shot falling and even how she plays defense. She's just a huge asset to our team.”

Making the All-Star team is a goal for Zellous, but not one she is obsessing over.

“It's something everybody should think about,” she said. “I think about it, just like I thought about winning a championship.

“I've worked hard all of this year and all of the off-season on improving my game. I would be blessed to be part of the All-Stars. But if I don't make it, it's not going to affect me. I'm still here, still trying to help us get another championship. It's not going to deter me from doing what I've been doing.”