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2022 WNBA All-Star Game: Handing Out Grades for Every Player

CHICAGO — Aces guard Kelsey Plum shined in her debut All-Star Game performance, scoring 30 points in Team Wilson’s 134–112 win over Team Stewart. The exhibition was also an opportunity for the league, and its players, to bring light to star Mercury center Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia. Griner was acknowledged as an honorary All-Star and starter pregame, and players wore jerseys that had Griner’s name and number on its back during the second half.

Here’s a grade for every player who participated:

Sylvia Fowle celebrates with teammates after dunking during the first half of the WNBA All-Star Game.

Fowles showed up for her final All-Star Game, getting the first points of the day and throwing down a dunk in the first half. 

Team Wilson

A’ja Wilson: B+

Wilson’s greatest contribution Sunday was picking a winning roster, and for that, we have bumped her up a letter grade. (That should matter, right?) During the contest itself, Wilson’s impact was more muted, at least by her standards. She was one of seven players on her roster to finish with double-figure points—she had 10—and she added five rebounds as well.

Sabrina Ionescu A-

Ionescu acquainted herself quite well throughout her first All-Star weekend. Saturday, Ionescu took home the Skills Competition title and Sunday, she showcased her arsenal once again. After scoring seven first-half points, Ionescu added 12 more in the second half. She additionally tacked on six rebounds and six assists in her team’s comfortable 22-point win.

Sylvia Fowles: A

In her final All-Star game, Fowles starred. She scored the game’s first basket—a three-pointer, matching her career total of career made threes. (Fowles said afterward the opening set for the three-point attempt was drawn up pregame.) She also had the play of the contest, a crowd-thrilling dunk in the second quarter.

She filled the box score, finishing the contest with seven points, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals. And she received a deserving standing ovation from the crowd as she checked out of the contest for the final time.

Candace Parker: B+

Of the four Sky players in the game, Parker had the greatest impact. She scored 15 points and hauled in eight rebounds in 22 minutes of action. Among her highlights, Parker banked in a four-pointer with less than two minutes to play, much to the delight of her home crowd.

Kelsey Plum in the 2022 WNBA All-Star Game, in which she was named MVP.

Plum took home MVP honors, tying the ASG scoring record with 30 points. 

Kelsey Plum: A

The game’s All-Star Game MVP, from the opening tip Plum pushed the pace whenever she was on the floor. The first-time All-Star guard sliced through the defense of Team Stewart multiple times and was as aggressive as any player in the exhibition. Plum tied a WNBA All-Star Game record with 30 points in the win, and her 12 field goal makes were an All-Star Game record.

Plum said afterward the win she had no idea she was close to breaking the overall scoring record, but was instead more concerned with keeping her percentages up. “When I missed a couple I'm like, KP, you cannot let this like be the downfall,” she said. She also said Sunday’s performance was her attempt at redeeming her sub-par three-point shooting contest performance one day earlier.

Ariel Atkins: C+

Atkins has had a stellar first half of the 2022 WNBA season, especially on the defensive end, where she leads all guards in defensive win-shares. However, her prowess on that side of the court was not needed Sunday and she finished with just four points and missed all five of her three-point shots.

Dearica Hamby: B

After a quiet first half—Hamby had only two points heading into the locker room—Hamby played an efficient and effective second half. She made three of her four field goal attempts in the second half and ended the win with 10 points and four rebounds. She also provided some additional in-game entertainment, tweeting her real-time reactions to what was transpiring on the court.

Natasha Howard: B-

The Liberty forward was back in her first All-Star Game since 2019, and her first appearance since joining the Liberty. While in that game she scored 14 points and added six rebounds, in this year’s exhibition she played a smaller role, logging just 14 minutes with eight points and two rebounds.

Rhyne Howard: B

Unprompted after Sunday’s showcase, Sue Bird acknowledged just how special Howard will be. “Rhyne Howard obviously has an amazing future,” Bird said. “The best part about all these players is they are, what, like 26 and younger and I can tell you now, it’s only going to get better.” And for her first All-Star Game, the 2022 No. 1 pick fared quite well. Howard scored 13 points on 55.5% shooting from the field. Expect even higher marks in future exhibitions, which she seems bound to participate in.

Brionna Jones: B

All-Star Games are not meant for centers, and Jones didn’t try to overextend herself in Sunday’s exhibition. She scored on her Sun teammate Alyssa Thomas in her first offensive possession of the game and added three more baskets, all around the rim, during the remainder of the game.

Courtney Vandersloot: B+

Vandersloot finished Team Wilson’s win with the kind of stat line you would expect. She recorded a game-high eight assists and added three steals, and she was active in the passing lane as well.

Jewell Loyd during the first half of the 2022 WNBA All Star Game

Loyd had five three-pointers in the second half for Team Stewart. 

Team Stewart

Breanna Stewart: B

When Bird saw the results of the All-Star draft, she told her Seattle teammate Stewart that she should have taken Plum first overall. The oversight loomed large Sunday as Stewart came up short, falling behind early and trailing throughout. GM-work aside, Stewart showcased her smooth arsenal in Chicago, finishing with 14 points on 62.% shooting from the field. Stewart has taken home two league MVPs throughout her young career, but an All-Star Game MVP will have to wait until at least (presumably) next year.

Nneka Ogwumike: B

Ogwumike was quiet in the first-half, playing only seven minutes and failing to score a point, bring in a rebound or dish out an assist. In the second half, however, she was as good as any player—she scored 12 points making six of her seven field goal attempts in only eight minutes of action.

Jonquel Jones: A-

The reigning league MVP was Team Stewart’s most effective player. Jones logged the only double-double in the contest, scoring 29 points and bringing in 13 rebounds. She also finished only one basket away from breaking the All-Star Game record. She said afterward, however, she wasn’t gunning for the points mark, noting that she didn’t even know she was close to it until Hamby pointed it out to her at the end of the contest.

Jackie Young: C

On multiple occasions, Young was the unwelcome target of the game’s best defensive efforts. Her Aces teammates turned All-Star game foes, Plum and Wilson, frequently double-teamed her, executing a plan both said they discussed pregame. At halftime, Young texted Wilson to stop double-teaming her (Young tweeted the same message), but that didn’t lead to an offensive explosion either. In the loss, she finished with only two points on one-of-four shooting from the field.

Sue Bird Sylvia Fowles are presented with flowers during the first half in a WNBA All Star Game.

Sunday was the final All-Star Game appearance for Bird and Fowles, both of whom are retiring at the end of the season. 

Sue Bird: C+

Bird was one of the stars of the day. She was part of a first-half ceremony and received a joyous ovation as she checked out of the contest for the final time in the fourth quarter. “That moment was really special,” Bird said. “That was really considerate of [Sky coach James Wade] to think of [pulling] me, and it was a really nice moment to share with the crowd, with the other players.” Nevertheless, Bird’s on-court performance left something to be desired as she was the only one of the game’s 22 players who failed to score.

Kahleah Copper: B-

Copper walked into the Wintrust Arena press conference room following Team Stewart’s loss and said Sunday’s game gave her “Finals feels all over again.” Her performance, however, was far different from the play that saw her win Finals MVP last October. She made four of her 11 field goal attempts, and missed each of her five three-pointers. In one of the game’s most entertaining moments, she was also hounded while on offense by Sky teammate turned All-Star foe Candace Parker late in the second quarter.

Skylar Diggins-Smith: C

In the 2014 All-Star game, Diggins-Smith showed off her dynamic offensive repertoire, scoring 27 points, which was the third-most ever entering Sunday. In this year’s exhibition, however, she struggled, missing her first layup attempt and converting only one of her nine field goal attempts. For the Mercury, Diggins-Smith is averaging 18.9 points per game, the most since her second season, but Sunday was not her night.

Jewell Loyd: A-

A Chicago native, Loyd had only six points at halftime. But the Storm star guard exploded in the second half to finish with 21 points. She did so by electrifying the Wintrust Arena crowd of 9,572 with five three-pointers after the half, keeping what was a largely uncontested All-Star Game a little more competitive.

Emma Meesseman: B

The 2019 Finals MVP was her efficient self Sunday, making four of her seven field goal attempts and bringing in four rebounds in only 13 minutes of action.

Arike Ogunbowale: B

After taking home All-Star MVP honors last summer after recording a 26-point scoring barrage, Ogunbowale’s performance Sunday was more muted. She finished with only 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting, and her biggest highlight opportunity—an ankle-breaking crossover she put on against Aces guard Kelsey Plum—came up just a little short, because she missed the jumper after sending the Las Vegas guard to the floor.

Alyssa Thomas: B

The versatile Connecticut forward has stuffed stat sheets throughout the first-half of the season. On Sunday, though, Thomas had a more minimal impact. While she collected eight rebounds, the second-most of any player on her team, she attempted only two shots (making both) and dished out just two assists. 

More WNBA Coverage: 

The ‘Quiet Fire’ of the Stewie 1: Inside Breanna Stewart’s Signature Shoe
What We Know About Brittney Griner’s Ongoing Detention in Russia
The Aces Look Damn Near Unstoppable Under Becky Hammon