Anticipation Rising for New WNBA All-Star Game Format

It is as if Elena Delle Donne is back on the playground or blacktop as she gets to pick a basketball team out of a pool of some of her good friends. This time however, what’s different is now all of her friends are WNBA All-Stars.

Delle Donne and Candace Parker are the two captains for the inaugural WNBA All-Star Draft, which will take place on Thursday. The new draft comes ahead of the WNBA All-Star Game, which will take place later this month, on Saturday, July 28 in Minneapolis, Minnesota at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC.

“I’m not worried about the format at all,” Delle Donne said. “I actually think it’s bringing a ton of excitement. We just got into Dallas and our whole team was just chatting about it, who they’d pick. So I think it just added even more good to this whole thing.”

The Mystics superstar admitted she has a lot of friends in the league – including her teammate Kristi Toliver, who Delle Donne joke-fully hinted at having a good chance of being selected with her first overall pick. Parker and Delle Donne will go back and forth, looking to create the best team amongst a deep and talented pool of WNBA All-Stars.

“I feel like it’s a bunch of superstars,” Delle Donne said. “You really can’t go wrong.”

This is the first year of the new format, breaking from the traditional East vs. West matchup. Last year in Seattle, the Western Conference defeated the Eastern Conference with a 130-121 victory. Maya Moore was named MVP.

On June 5 of this season, the WNBA announced a new All-Star Game format. Delle Donne and Parker get to shape their rosters from scratch – a unique yet fun challenge for the two WNBA superstars. On Wednesday, Delle Donne offered some insight into what types of players she’s looking for to fill out her squad.

“I’m kind of going to be looking for players that can do it all and are very versatile,” she said. “And that’s what you get when you see who made the (All-Star Game) this year.”

This year’s All-Star field is stacked. Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm was selected to a WNBA record 11th All-Star Game and could be a great choice for either Delle Donne or Parker at the guard spot. Liz Cambage will be taking the floor in Minneapolis after just putting up a WNBA-record 53 points in a regular season game. This will be Brittney Griner’s fifth WNBA All-Star Game – will she throw down another dunk? Diana Taurasi will be playing in her ninth WNBA All-Star game and likely will be selected by one captain in the first few picks. And then there’s A’ja Wilson, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft and the only rookie to be named to the All-Star Game.

All told, it will be tough for Delle Donne and Parker to go wrong as they pick their WNBA All-Star teams with this new format.

“It shouldn’t be too tough picking,” Delle Donne said. “I’m sure Candace and I are going to have a blast just going back and forth, just having fun with this moment.”

“I think it’s an awesome opportunity to stir up a lot of excitement for the All-Star Game and I’m honored to be in the position where I get to pick.”