10 Takeaways from WNBA All-Star 2022

WNBA All-Star 2022 from Chicago is officially a wrap as Team Wilson picked up the 134-112 win over Team Stewart on Sunday afternoon to conclude the weekend’s festivities. Here are 10 of the top takeaways from the weekend celebration of the game and the WNBA.

1. Allie Quigley for four!

Allie Quigley came out of 3-point contest retirement once Chicago was announced as the host of All-Star 2022. The three-time champion (2017, 2018, 2021) had nothing left to prove as she has a well-earned reputation as one of the greatest shooters ever, but with All-Star back in hometown – she grew up in the Chicago suburb of Joliet – she had to go for the storybook ending.

And that’s exactly what she got. After posting the top score in the first round (26), she was able to be the final shooter in the championship round. After Ariel Atkins posted a 21 and Rhyne Howard posted a 14, Quigley knew the number she needed to become the first player (NBA or WNBA) to win four 3-point contests.

She hit the 22 points she needed on her fourth rack – the all money-ball rack located on the right wing – but added a bit of icing to the cake by draining all five shots from the right corner with the title already in hand as the crowd erupted with every swish. Part of the cheer squad were Quigley’s Sky teammates – her wife Courtney Vandersloot and fellow Chicagoan Candace Parker (donning a Quigley jersey from her days at DePaul University in Chicago) – who rushed Quigley as soon as her final shot went through the net.

There are a number of trophies that are named after legends of the game – in the NBA there is the Bill Russell Finals MVP, the Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP and the newly introduced Magic Johnson and Larry Bird Conference Finals MVP trophies. Can the WNBA rename this award the Allie Quigley 3-Point Champion trophy?

2. The 4-point shot is a hit and a lot of misses

The WNBA instituted a number of special rules for this year’s All-Star Game: the 4-point shot, a 20-second shot clock and no free throws.

For the 4-point shot, two circles were added at each end of the court – placed 28 feet away from the basket, which is about six feet beyond the 3-point line (22 feet, 1.75 inches away) – as players attempting shots from that zone were awarded four points.

Jonquel Jones hit the first 4-point shot in All-Star history as she knocked down a 34-footer with 7:04 to play in the first quarter. The reigning league MVP was an early favorite for All-Star MVP as she exploded for 14 first quarter points before Team Wilson went on its game-changing run in the second quarter (more on that later). Jones ending the game as the only player to make multiple 4-point shots as she finished with two, while the rest of the All-Stars combined for three made 4-pointers. The final tally was 5-of-29 (17.2%) from 4-point range.

The two other rule changes also came into play a few times on Sunday. The 20-second shot clock not only sped up the pace of play, but also resulted in rarely seen shot clock violations in an All-Star Game as both teams had one in the second quarter.

The final change was no free throws as players were awarded the maximum available points for all shooting fouls, with the only exception being the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and all of overtime. In the end, only a few shooting fouls were called (it is an All-Star Game after all), but the lack of free throws to avoid slowing down play was a welcome sight.

3. Honoring Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles at their final All-Star

A centerpiece of All-Star 2022 was honoring two legends as they are set to retire at the end of the season – Seattle’s Sue Bird and Minnesota’s Sylvia Fowles, who began her career in Chicago. The players and fans not only gave Bird and Fowles their flowers by showering them with love and praise throughout the weekend, between the first and second quarters of Sunday’s game, they literally gave them their flowers along with a touching video presentation.

With just over two minutes left to play in the game, and the result in hand, Sue Bird took a foul in order to stop play and allow a substitution. Both Bird and Fowles exited the game to a rousing standing ovation from the sold out Wintrust Arena crowd.

In her final All-Star Game, Fowles – the league’s all-time leader in rebounds and field goal percentage – finished with seven points, nine rebounds and six assists in 20 minutes of play for Team Wilson.

In her final All-Star Game, Bird – the league’s all-time leader in assists, games played and games won – dished out six assists in 15 minutes for Team Stewart.

4. We can’t let Sylvia Fowles retire

Last month in my weekly power rankings column, I called for a petition to prevent Fowles from going through with her retirement at the end of the season.

I would like to officially begin the petition to keep Sylvia Fowles from retiring at the end of this season. The 15th-year pro currently ranks ninth in scoring (17.1 ppg), first in rebounding (10.6 rpg), first in field goal percentage (64.5%), and sixth in blocks (1.3 bpg). There’s something to be said for going out while you’re still at the top of your game, but Syl still looks like she has a lot left in the tank if she wanted to extend her career.

I would like to reiterate that position – and got some backing from a few All-Stars – after Fowles’ performance on Sunday. I mentioned her stats from Sunday earlier, but we have to take a closer look at a few of those points. First, there was a 3-pointer from Fowles for the first points of the All-Star Game. In 442 career games played across the regular season, playoffs and All-Star Games, Fowles had made just one 3-pointer in four attempts. But on Sunday, she opened the game with a smooth stroke from beyond the arc for the first three points of the day.

But the fireworks came with four minutes left in the opening half, as Fowles got a steal from Jackie Young and took off toward the basket on a one-woman fast break. As she approached the rim, she elevated and threw down a dunk that blew the roof off Wintrust Arena as fans and fellow All-Stars couldn’t contain their joy as the 36-year-old showed she still has some hops left in her legs. It was Fowles’ first dunk since her first All-Star Game back on July 25, 2009.

Team Wilson’s Dearica Hamby – who was live-tweeting the game – called for Fowles to pull a Tom Brady and unretire. Candace Parker said the same during her in-game interview with ESPN’s Holly Rowe.

5. Focus on Brittney Griner throughout the weekend

While this weekend was a celebration of the WNBA and the outstanding play of the league’s top players, it was also an opportunity to honor a star that could not be in Chicago and to amplify the call to end Brittney Griner’s wrongful detainment in Russia.

Griner was named an honorary All-Star starter by the WNBA and was announced with the starting lineups prior to Sunday’s game. The shooting shirts wore by every player during warmups featured Griner’s name and number 42 across their backs.

Then, at the conclusion of halftime, all 22 All-Stars returned to the court wearing Brittney Griner All-Star jerseys, and for the rest of the game, every player played as No. 42. While this may have made things a little more difficult for the statisticians tracking the game, it was an incredible show of support and unity in the fight to bring Brittney home.

6. Kelsey Plum shows out on Sunday

Kelsey Plum and Rhyne Howard were the busiest players of All-Star weekend as they each participated in all three events – the Skills Challenge, the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest and the All-Star Game. Plum was knocked out of the Skills Challenge in the semifinals, and did not make it past the first round of the 3-point contest – and got a bit of trolling from her Las Vegas teammate (and All-Star captain) A’ja Wilson for her performance.

But Sunday’s All-Star Game was a different story, as Plum scored a game-high 30 points – matching Maya Moore’s All-Star Game record from 2015 – and knocked down an All-Star Game record 12 shots to lead Team Wilson to the win and earn MVP honors in her All-Star debut.

Plum reached the 30-point mark with a 4-point shot with 15 seconds remaining in the game, the proverbial cherry on top of the sundae, as her squad had already locked up the victory. She finished the day with 30 points on 12-of-18 shooting from the field, 5-of-11 from 3-point range, with three assists and two rebounds in 23 minutes.

7. Team Wilson improves to 2-0

This was A’ja Wilson’s second time serving as an All-Star captain – the first came in 2019 in the second year of the captain format – and she remains undefeated when allowed to select her own squad; she’s 0-2 in her other two All-Star appearances.

Wilson’s squad took control of the game with a 19-2 run to close the first half as they outscored Team Stewart 36-11 in the second quarter to build an insurmountable lead. Team Wilson led by as many as 21 points in the third quarter before Team Stewart made a run – fueled by Jewell Loyd’s All-Star-record-tying seven 3-pointers, four of which came in the fourth quarter – to cut the lead down to seven points.

But every time Team Stewart threatened to make it a game, Team Wilson had a response. Down the stretch of the fourth quarter, it was Sabrina Ionescu and Candace Parker that delivered. Ionescu knocked down a pair of clutch 3-pointers, while Parker hit the trifecta with a layup for two points, a traditional 3-pointer for three points and then the 4-point shot (off the glass) with 1:42 to play that pushed the lead back to 16 points.

8. A 40-game season is on the horizon

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert held her All-Star press conference an hour before tip-off and shared the news that the league will play a 40-game schedule next season – adding four more games to this year’s record number of 36.

A quick review for those that may not know the history here. The WNBA opened in 1997 with a 28-game schedule for its then eight teams. In each of the next two years another two games were added – 30 games in 1998, 32 games in 1999. It held at 32 games until 2003, when the schedule expanded to 34 games. The 34-game schedule held for 17 seasons (2003-2019) and was only scaled back in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After the 22-game schedule in the bubble, the WNBA returned in 2021 with a 32-game schedule and increased to 36 games this season.

As Engelbert noted in her press conference, the most recent collective bargaining agreement allows the schedule to increase to as many as 44 games. The league will introduce the 40-game schedule in 2023 as it is a year without an Olympics (like last year) or FIBA World Cup (like this year) to contend with when building the WNBA schedule.

Other notable items from Engelbert’s press conference were the announcement that charter flights will be used for all WNBA Finals games, bonus-pool money for the playoffs has increased to allow players to earn more, and that the league continues to identify cities and potential ownership groups for expansion by 2025.

9. First-time All-Stars prove ready for the stage

The 2022 All-Star Game offered an amazing juxtaposition as it was simultaneously an incredible send-off for two of the greatest players in league history in Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles and saw one of the four first-time All-Stars win MVP honors with a record-setting performance in Kelsey Plum.

But Plum wasn’t the only player that shined in her first All-Star appearance for Team Wilson. Sabrina Ionescu finished with 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting (all from 3-point range) to go with six rebounds and six assists in 23 minutes.

Meanwhile, rookie Rhyne Howard put up 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, with five boards and four assists in just 15 minutes off the bench for the winning squad. Jackie Young played just 12 minutes for Team Stewart and finished with two points, two rebounds and an assist.

10. We need more live tweeting during games

Dearica Hamby and Arike Ogunbowale pulled double-duty as All-Star players and All-Star content providers on Sunday as they live tweeted throughout the game, providing another layer of entertainment to the festivities.

Ogunbowale made sure to tweet out a screenshot of her putting Plum on skates late in the first half.

And, of course, calling her shot from 4-point range.

At some point, Hamby’s phone was absconded by team captain A’ja Wilson, who tweeted at Breanna Stewart to try to trade Hamby from her team mid-game.

But Hamby got the last laugh against Wilson following a blown layup late in the fourth quarter.

Longtime WNBA reporter Brian Martin writes articles on WNBA.com throughout the season. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the WNBA or its clubs.