Now that we know the members of Team Delle Donne and Team Parker, how do we think the WNBA All-Star Game will play out? One thing's for sure, the hometown Minnesota fans will be conflicted, as Lynx players were selected to both teams. Here are five observations on this version of best vs. best, which will be played July 28 (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET) at Target Center in Minneapolis.
1. It's a shame Maya Moore isn't captain
Lynx fans have been understanding of Moore's explanation that she just had too much to do to be a team captain, even though she earned that by being the top overall vote-getter.
But it's still odd. Sure, more is required of the Lynx players since Minnesota is hosting the game. But how much extra time was really needed to be a captain? Picks were made by Washington's Elena Delle Donne and Los Angeles' Candace Parker on a conference call Thursday. They'll get together with coaches Dan Hughes (Seattle) and Sandy Brondello (Phoenix) on July 27, the day before the game, to choose starters. Doesn't seem like a big time commitment.
There has been speculation -- and Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve alluded to it -- that Moore's personality wasn't the best fit for this role, mentioning she was "selfless" -- which, again, is odd because there is nothing "selfish" about fulfilling an honor the fans voted you to have. Was Moore worried about hurting someone's feelings with her picks? That seems weird, too; it's not going be revealed in what order the captains chose their players. Whoever the last player picked was, she's not going to know it.
More likely, perhaps, is that Moore is concerned about the Lynx's 13-10 record, being in seventh place and what she individually needs to do to help change that. Fair enough, but the All-Star captaincy doesn't seem like it should be such a burden.
If Moore had been captain, it seems likely she would have been able to keep all the Lynx on the same team, just as Delle Donne and Parker did with their respective teammates.
The Lynx fans rightfully adore Moore, who has been so key in helping Minnesota win four titles and is a wonderful role model in the game. They're not making a big deal of her not being a captain. But how much fun would it be if they had Team Moore to root for, with her, Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles on the same side? As it is, the Lynx fans will be conflicted between Moore on one team and Augustus and Fowles on the other.
2. How will the All-Star Game feel?
It's an exhibition, and fans in attendance will be excited to see every All-Star. They'll eagerly applaud any outstanding plays. Still, even at All-Star Games, there used to be a true "home" team. Now, especially with the Lynx players split and no West vs. East allegiance to proclaim, whom will the Target Center crowd truly be cheering for?
Also, how will the game feel for the players? The East side used to rally around the All-Star Game as a chance to prove something, in response to the West's greater success in winning titles. (Inaugural champ Houston was in the East for the WNBA's first season, but then it was in the West for the Comets' subsequent three titles. So Detroit and Indiana are the only "true" East teams to win it all.)
With the playoff format change two years ago that did away with conference affiliation for the postseason, the line between East and West had largely been erased anyway. Now with no conferences in the All-Star Game, it's nearly invisible.
So will it feel even more like an individual skills exhibition than a game? Or will the fans clearly bond with one team over the other? We'll find out.
3. Hooray for the Ogwumikes
If there's one thing that everybody wanted to see under the new format that did away with East vs. West, it was sisters Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike on the same team. And that will happen, as they'll both play for Team Parker. Just like their great days of "Nerd City" at Stanford, right? As teammates with the Cardinal, they went to the 2011 and 2012 Final Four together.
Both former No. 1 draft picks are about as far apart in the WNBA as is geographically possible, with Nneka in Los Angeles and Chiney in Connecticut. They don't play together overseas, either; this past year Chiney focused instead on her broadcasting career during the WNBA's offseason.
But as siblings, they always have been extremely close. They've avoided making much fuss over having to go head-to-head when the Sparks play the Sun. But much like the Williams sisters in tennis, they understandably don't enjoy facing each other. For this All-Star Game, they won't have to.
4. Old guard and new guard
Team Delle Donne has four-time Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird (Storm) and Diana Taurasi (Mercury) at guard. They were teammates for two seasons together at UConn, and have played alongside each other for the U.S. national team and overseas. Bird is 37 and Taurasi 36; they are as experienced a backcourt as there ever has been in women's basketball. This is Bird's 11th All-Star Game, and the ninth for Taurasi.
Meanwhile, two guards still in their 20s who -- at some point -- might be getting their shot at the national team are on Team Parker: Los Angeles' Chelsea Gray, 25, and Dallas' Skylar Diggins-Smith, 27.
Also, it will be exciting to see another of the game's outstanding young guards, Las Vegas' Kayla McBride, 26, on the same team with Bird and Taurasi. The way she has been playing for the Aces, McBride really has elevated herself in the league this year.
McBride's Las Vegas teammate A'ja Wilson is the lone rookie on the All-Star squad. And if you've been thinking, "Wow, how cool would it be to see several of the most multidimensional players 6-foot-4 and taller on the same team?" -- you're in luck. Team Delle Donne will have EDD, Wilson, Seattle's Breanna Stewart and Phoenix's DeWanna Bonner.
5. Which team has the advantage?
If you're talking about championship experience, that's heavily in favor of Team Delle Donne. Led by Augustus' four titles and Taurasi's three, that squad combines for 15 WNBA titles spread among seven players.
Meanwhile, Team Parker combines for seven WNBA titles among four players, with four of those championships belonging to Moore.
Also, there is no one on Team Delle Donne who doesn't have at least one of her WNBA teammates with her: There are three Mercury players and two each from the Aces, Storm, Lynx and Mystics.
Meanwhile, while Team Parker had three from the Sparks and two from the Wings, the other six players are "solo" -- from the Dream, Sky, Sun, Lynx, Liberty and Storm.
As for MVP awards, four past winners are on Team Parker, and three are on Team Delle Donne. And the favorite, at this point, for the award in 2018 is also Team Delle Donne with Stewart.
Oh, and have we mentioned two of the most dominant big women in the game -- 6-9 Brittney Griner and 6-6 Fowles -- are both with Team Delle Donne? Yes, there's 6-8 Liz Cambage on the other side, but that's a ton of power on the low block for EDD's side.
Again, it's an exhibition, and sometimes those games don't turn out like you think. There is plenty of breathtaking talent on both sides. But on paper, the advantage appears to go to Team Delle Donne.