WNBA All-Star Game 2021: The Ultimate Guide

WNBA All-Star Game Overview

The Women’s National Basketball Association All-Star Game is an annual exhibition hoops game played in the United States between the best players of the Western and Eastern Conference of the WNBA. Since 2004, the game is not held in years when the Summer Olympics take place.

However, for the first time ever, the WNBA is holding an official All-Star Game during an Olympic year. That means that this year, every player on the U.S. Tokyo Olympics team earns 2021 All-Star accolades. So here we reveal everything you need to know about this year’s unique All-Star format. Plus, answer all your questions and take a walk through All-Star history.

Does the WNBA have All-Star games?

Yes the WNBA has All-Star games. This year’s is the league’s 17th WNBA All-Star Game.

WNBA All-Star Game 2021 date

The WNBA All-Star game 2021 will be on Wednesday, July 14th at 7pm EST and will be broadcast on ESPN. ESPN play-by-play announcer Ryan Ruocco and analyst Rebecca Loco will call it for the network, their seventh WNBA All-Star Game together. Meanwhile ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe will be covering her 10th WNBA All-Star Game.

The 2021 WNBA All-Star Game serves as a sendoff to the Olympic team before it heads to Tokyo, as the squad has been training in Vegas leading up to the Olympic Games. To accommodate the Olympic Games, the WNBA included a break from league play between July 15-Aug. 11.

WNBA All-Star Game 2021 location

Las Vegas will host WNBA All-Star for the second time, having previously done so in 2019 when the game was last played. The WNBA All-Star game 2021 will be held in Las Vegas at Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

WNBA All-Star Game 2021 voting

All-Star voting began Tuesday June 15th, at 2 pm ET and ended on June 27 at 11:59 pm ET. Fans were able to vote for up to 10 players via the WNBA’s website and app, but were only allowed to vote for a certain number of each frontcourt and backcourt players.

WNBA All-Star Game roster 2021

For the first time ever, this year’s All-Star Game will not feature the traditional East-West format. Instead the format pits Team WNBA against Team USA, the Olympic team.

The 12-person Team WNBA roster was determined after the top 36 vote-getters from that voting process who were not members of the USA Basketball five-on-five roster were provided to WNBA head coaches.

The initial selection those 36 players was conducted through a combination of voting by fans (50 percent of the vote), current WNBA players (25 percent) and a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters (25 percent) from June 15 through June 27.

Then WNBA head coaches voted for five frontcourt players, three guards and four additional players at any position. Coaches were not permitted to vote for players from their own team. 

Starters for AT&T WNBA All-Star 2021 will be determined by the respective head coaches of Team WNBA and the USA Basketball Women’s National Team.

Serving as Co-Head Coaches of Team WNBA will be WNBA Legends Lisa Leslie and Tina Thompson. The USA Women’s National Team will be under the direction of Head Coach Dawn Staley, herself a member of the WNBA’s All-Decade Team.

AT&T WNBA All-Star 2021: Team WNBA

Candace Parker, who won gold medals in 2008 and 2012 with Team USA, has nothing left to prove. But she was inexplicably cut from the USA Basketball roster in 2016, and recently spoke out against the program after another controversial decision was made to cut her former Sparks teammate, Nneka Ogwumike, who is now the only WNBA MVP to not play in the Olympics. It will be interesting to watch her and MVP-potential candidate Jonquel Jones take on the USA Basketball squad.

When asked about the All-Star matchup after the Connecticut Sun’s win over the New York Liberty on Sunday July 11th, Jonquel made it clear she and her teammates are going for a win. “I know the people that are playing on the All-Star team, we want to beat Team USA,” she said. Add in walking bucket Arike Ogunbowale, and anything could happen! The WNBA All-Stars have a total of eight first-time All-Stars on the roster.

Jonquel Jones WNBA All-Star Game
Jonquel Jones shoots the ball
  • DeWanna Bonner, Connecticut Sun – 4th All-Star selection: A two-time WNBA champion (2009, 2014) and the only player in league history to win the WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year honor three times (2009-2011).
  • Liz Cambage, Las Vegas Aces – 4th All-Star selection: A two-time All-WNBA Team selection (2018-19) and the runner up in the 2018 WNBA MVP voting when she paced the league in scoring.
  • Kahleah Copper, Chicago Sky – 1st All-Star selection: Through 17 games, she is leading Chicago in scoring (13.9 ppg) and minutes (32.2).
  • Dearica Hamby, Las Vegas Aces – 1st All-Star selection: The reigning, two-time WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year, Hamby is one of six Aces to average double-figures in scoring this season (11.2 ppg), while coming off the bench in all 15 games.
  • Brionna Jones, Connecticut Sun – 1st All-Star selection: In 2021, Brionna is recording career-best figures for scoring (14.4 ppg) and rebounding (6.7 rpg), while playing the most minutes of her five seasons (31.1 mpg).
  • Jonquel Jones, Connecticut Sun – 3rd All-Star selection: Jonquel leads the league in rebounding (10.9 rpg) and the Sun with a career-best 21.7 ppg (third in the WNBA).
  • Betnijah Laney, New York Liberty – 1st All-Star selection: The WNBA’s Most Improved Player in 2020, is posting career-highs of 19.7 ppg and 5.3 apg.
  • Arike Ogunbowale, Dallas Wings – 1st All-Star selection: The WNBA’s leading scorer last season when she averaged 22.8 ppg ranks fourth this year at 20.3 ppg.
  • Candace Parker, Chicago Sky – 6th All-Star selection: Candace has made an immediate impact in her first season with Chicago – the Sky have posted an 8-1 record in games in which she has played.
  • Satou Sabally, Dallas Wings – 1st All-Star selection: Satou is Dallas’ leading rebounder (6.1 rpg) and No. 3 scorer (13.2 ppg).
  • Courtney Vandersloot, Chicago Sky – 3rd All-Star selection: Courtney is averaging a league-leading 8.5 apg in 2021, two more per game than the No. 2 ranked player.
  • Courtney Williams, Atlanta Dream – 1st All-Star selection: Courtney has increased her scoring output each season and is averaging a career-high 17.1 ppg.

AT&T WNBA All-Star 2021: USA Women’s National Team

As for the Olympic team, we get to watch the most recent WNBA MVPs on the floor at the same time together, in Breanna and A’ja – plus add in MVP-potential candidate Tina. Plus, we’ll see a ton of veteran talent such as Sue and Diana who know how to close out games, and who will be competing in their fifth Olympics, tying WNBA legend Teresa Edwards for the most appearances on the USA Women’s National Team roster. Also, on Team USA, only Washington Mystics guard Ariel Atkins is a first-time All-Star. Six WNBA players will be competing for the USA Women’s National Team in the Olympics for the first time: Ariel Atkins, Napheesa Collier, Chelsea Gray, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Jewell Loyd, and A’ja Wilson.

Ariel Atkins WNBA All-Star Game
Ariel Atkins dribbles the ball
  • Ariel Atkins, Washington Mystics – 1st All-Star Game: Ariel is posting career-highs in scoring (17.5 ppg) and rebounding (3.3 rpg), and is the Mystics’ second-leading scorer.
  • Sue Bird, Seattle Storm – 12th All-Star Game: Now in her 18th WNBA season, a four-time WNBA champion and the league’s career leader in assists (2,985), Sue joins Diana Taurasi and Teresa Edwards as the only five-time U.S. women’s basketball Olympians.
  • Tina Charles, Washington Mystics – 8th All-Star Game: Tina leads all players in scoring in 2021 with a career-high 25.5 ppg, and this is her third Olympics.
  • Napheesa Collier, Minnesota Lynx – 2nd All-Star Game: Napheesa currently leads the Lynx in scoring with a career-best 17.6 ppg and trails only Sylvia Fowles in rebounding (6.5 rpg).
  • Skylar Diggins-Smith, Phoenix Mercury – 5th All-Star Game: A first-time member of the U.S. Olympic Team, Skylar’s 18.9 ppg is the second-highest figure of her career.
  • Sylvia Fowles, Minnesota Lynx – 7th All-Star Game: The WNBA’s career leader in total rebounds (3,539) and defensive boards (2,517), and a two-time league champ, this is Sylvia’s fourth Olympics.
  • Chelsea Gray, Las Vegas Aces – 4th All-Star Game: A first-time Olympian, Chelsea’s career-high 6.5 apg (second in the league) has Las Vegas leading the WNBA in scoring (91.3 ppg).
  • Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury – 7th All-Star Game: This is Brittney’s second Olympics, and her career average of 2.9 blocks per game and her 14 regular-season dunks rank first in league history.
  • Jewell Loyd, Seattle Storm – 3rd All-Star Game: Jewell is a member of the U.S. Olympic Team for the first time, while her career-highs in points (18.6 ppg) and assists (4.5 apg) rank second on the Storm.
  • Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm – 3rd All-Star Game: Breanna is a two-time member of the U.S. Olympic Team, and her 21.8 ppg is second in the WNBA only to Tina and her 10.1 rpg is second behind only Jonquel Jones.
  • Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury – 10th All-Star Game: The WNBA’s career leader in points (9,019) and three-point shots made (1,177), Diana is a five-time U.S. women’s basketball Olympian.
  • A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces – 3rd All-Star Game: A first-time member of the U.S. Olympic Team, A’ja is the 2020 league MVP and her 2021 season 19.4 ppg and 8.7 ppg rank seventh and eighth in the WNBA.

WNBA All-Star Game 2021 predictions & takes

Bleacher Report weighed in: “Satou Sabally and Kahleah Copper were the biggest surprises among the 12 WNBA All-Stars….Marina Mabrey, Nneka Ogwumike, and Sami Whitcomb can lay claim to being among the top snubs.”

Just Women’s Sports says: “Each team has nine players in the top 25 in scoring, so the game will likely come down to the defensive battle. Team WNBA also boasts playmaker Courtney Vandersloot, who leads the league in assists, and Arike Ogunbowale and Kahleah Copper, who have something to prove after competing in U.S. training camps but not making the final roster for the Olympics.”‘

Sports Illustrated shares: “Sky forward Candace Parker and Sun forward Jonquel Jones headline the 12-person Team WNBA squad set to face off against USA Basketball’s final roster in the league’s All-Star Game on July 14.  Team USA is equipped with steady veterans, such as Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, as well as talented first-timers like reigning WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson and rising star Jewell Loyd.”

Interesting facts about AT&T WNBA All-Star 2021

  1. The Las Vegas Aces have the most All-Star selections with four, followed by four teams with three players each (Chicago Sky, Connecticut Sun, Phoenix Mercury and Seattle Storm).
  2. The number one all-time leaders for points (Diana Taurasi), assists (Sue Bird), and rebounds (Sylvia Fowles) will be playing in the WNBA All-Star Game.
  3. Three international players will be competing in this year’s event: Liz Cambage (Australia), Jonquel Jones (Bahamas) and Satou Sabally (Germany).
  4. Out of the 24 All-Stars, seven players have competed in the WNBA for more than a decade: Sue Bird (18th season), Diana Taurasi (17th), Sylvia Fowles (14th), Candace Parker (14th), DeWanna Bonner (12th), Tina Charles (11th) and Courtney Vandersloot (11th).

WNBA All-Star Game 2021 tickets

Tickets to the WNBA All-Star Game 2021 range from $44 to $155, and went on sale on Friday, June 18th. There appear to be a lot of upper level seats still available starting at $50. You can find ticket information here. Learn more about WNBA ticket prices here.

WNBA All-Star Game 2021 Live Stream Free

Want to watch the 2021 WNBA All-Star game for free? Check out the full game on YouTube here.

Watch the full-game highlights here:

And see Arike win her award here:

MTN DEW 3-Point Contest 2021: Allie Quigley Wins

Four players vied for the title of the league’s best three-point shooter in this year’s Mountain Dew 3-point contest, including Chicago Sky’s guard Allie Quigley, Connecticut Sun forward Jonquel Jones, Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd, and New York Liberty guard Sami Whitcomb.

Allie Quigley made nine of her last 10 shots to win her third WNBA MTN DEW Three-Point Contest title at halftime, and won (28-24 Jonquel Jones), earning $10,000 towards the Patrick Quigley Memorial Scholarship Fund at Joliet Catholic Academy!

“It’s definitely not easy. It’s stressful, really.” she said of the contest.

Her wife Courtney Vandersloot added, “When she’s out there, she makes it look so calm, and so easy… when she made all her money rack shots, I knew there was a good chance, because she only needed six more points or something.” And her teammate Candace Parker is ready to name the event after her.

Second place winner, and overseas teammates, Jonquel Jones recapped, “With it being my first three-point contest, I felt really good about it. I played with Allie every day [in Russia] and I see her shoot every day, so if I’m going to lose to somebody, that’s the person I’m going to lose to. So hats off to her. She’s a great shooter, and I’m happy to lose to her if I have to choose somebody.”

WNBA All Star 2021 MVP Arike Ogunbowale & Team WNBA Defeat Team USA 93-85

“We usually don’t do an All-Star Game in an Olympics year. This year, it’s a much more scaled down version, and I’m thrilled we’re having one. To me, it was really important, not just for fan and media engagement, but for the players.” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Englebert, while kicking off the press festivities on the day of the big dance.

Later that evening, the USA Basketball Women’s National Team fell to the WNBA All-Stars 93-85 in a non-traditional All-Star game style. This night, defense was actually on display! But to be fair, we were warned: Candace already said she was going at Chelsea Gray ahead of time.

Team WNBA started: DeWanna Bonner, Jonquel Jones, Candace Parker, Arike Ogunbowale, and Courtney Vandersloot. While Team USA started: Sue Bird, Brittney Griner, Jewell Loyd, Breanna Stewart, and A’ja Wilson.

The WNBA shot 46.4%, while the U.S. made 47.3% of its shots. But the USA lost the rebounding battle 41-37, with Jonquel Jones securing 14 boards for the WNBA, double that of U.S. leader Sylvia Fowles.

U.S. coach Dawn Staley said, “…throughout the game, the habits that we did not create yet were not in place. So, defensively we’ve got our work cut out for us. Offensively, we’ve got to get some more chemistry and work together a little bit and learn each other’s tendencies. We got beat by a good basketball team. The WNBA All-Stars are great players, and they played with nothing to lose.”

 The WNBA’s Arike Ogunbowale scored nine of her 26 points in the fourth quarter and was named All-Star MVP, after live tweeting the game! Not to be outdone, Jonquel Jones finished with a double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds. Meanwhile Liz Cambage came through with popcorn and major vibes, after suffering a minor injury in practice with the Australian national team which prevented her from playing.

“We have a lot of players in our league that are capable. It’s the toughest league to get into, and it’s the toughest league to stay in. Hats off to them. You have to give credit. They played hard, they made shots, they played free.” said Skylar Diggins-Smith. What the game really showed is how deep American basketball is. 

Brittney Griner led Team USA with 17 points, followed closely by Breanna Stewart with 15, and Sylvia Fowles with 12.

Meanwhile, USA Basketball has work ahead of them, in terms of getting more practice reps in, finding their chemistry, and coming together to win. “This has always been the challenge with USA Basketball, I think we’ve said this ad nauseam,” five-time Olympian Sue Bird said of coming together and building chemistry. “These things can really take a whole training camp or months or years, and we always try and do it in a matter of days or weeks.”

WNBA All-Star game history & fun facts

  1. Did you know that team USA took on a group of WNBA All-Stars in an exhibition during the 2004 Olympic year previously? And that the “Stars at the Sun” showcase in 2010 featured the same matchup of All-Stars versus Olympians? However neither was considered a WNBA All-Star Game.
  2. Five WNBA cities have never been selected to host the All-Star game: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Indianapolis, and Los Angeles.
  3. The Western Conference leads the overall series 10–4.
  4. In 2021, the game format will change, using the Elam Ending in the fourth period.
  5. The first WNBA All-Star Game was held in 1999 at New York’s Madison Square Garden, where All-Star MVP Lisa Leslie led the West past the East 79-61. Check out the box scores from the 99 All-Star game.

Who’s had the most appearances in WNBA All-Star games?

Sue Bird has had the most appearances in the WNBA All-Star game, with 12 showings. She’s followed closely by Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi, both with 10 selections.

WNBA All-Star Selections All-Time
WNBA All-Star Selections All Time

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