Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner was named an WNBA All-Star Game starter in her return season from detainment in Russia, and the Indiana Fever‘s Aliyah Boston will be the sixth rookie in league history to start the game.
The WNBA on Sunday announced its 10 starters and captains for the July 15 game in Las Vegas (ABC, 8:30 p.m. ET).
The MVP front-runners, Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson and New York Liberty forward Breanna Stewart, finished 1-2 in voting and will be captains for the second year in a row. It is Wilson’s third time being a captain and fifth All-Star appearance overall. Team Wilson won the All-Star Game in 2019 and 2022.
It is also the fifth All-Star Game for Stewart and second time being a captain.
The six other starters named Sunday were guards Chelsea Gray and Jackie Young of Las Vegas; guard Arike Ogunbowale and forward Satou Sabally of the Dallas Wings; forward Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks; and guard Jewell Loyd of the Seattle Storm. Of that group, Ogwumike has the most All-Star experience, as this is her eighth selection. It’s the fifth time for Gray and Loyd, the third for Ogunbowale and the second for Sabally and Young.
The league’s head coaches will select the 12 reserves, which will include at least three guards and five frontcourt players, plus four players at either position. They can’t vote for their own players. Reserves will be announced Saturday, and the captains will pick their teams in the WNBA All-Star Team Selection Special on July 8 (ESPN, 1 p.m. ET).
This will be Griner’s ninth time as an All-Star, which includes last year when she was named an honorary All-Star by commissioner Cathy Engelbert. Both teams wore No. 42 jerseys in the second half of last year’s game in Chicago in honor of Griner, who missed the entire 2022 season in a Russian prison. She returned to the United States in a prisoner exchange in December.
Griner is averaging 19.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks, and returned to action Saturday night in a 97-74 loss to Seattle after missing the previous three games with a hip injury.
Boston, the No. 1 pick in April’s draft, will be the first rookie to start in the All-Star Game since the Atlanta Dream’s Shoni Schimmel in 2014. Schimmel was MVP of the game that year, but played just 88 regular-season and playoff games in her career; her final game came in 2018.
The other four rookies who have started the All-Star Game were Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore (2011); Seattle guard Sue Bird and Indiana forward Tamika Catchings (both 2002); and Washington Mystics forward Chamique Holdsclaw (1999). Elena Delle Donne and Griner were both also voted as All-Star Game starters as rookies in 2013, but didn’t play in the game due to injury.
Boston leads the league in field goal percentage (.651) and is the top rookie in scoring (15.6), rebounding (8.1) and blocked shots (1.5).
Players were selected without regard for conference affiliation. Fans accounted for 50% of the vote to determine the starters, while current WNBA players and a media panel accounted for 25% each. After votes were tallied, players were ranked by position, with the top four guards and top six frontcourt players earning starting spots.
If any player is unable to play in the All-Star Game, a replacement will be named by Engelbert.