LOS ANGELES — When the All-Star starters were announced, Courtney Vandersloot was noticeably missing from the list.
She’s expected to be among the reserves, the pool of players voted on by WNBA coaches, but was eighth among guards in voting by fans, media and players.
“I was very surprised,” said Candace Parker, who was selected as a starter in her seventh All-Star Game.
Nearing the midway point of the season, Vandersloot is again at the top of the league in assists, averaging 7.1 per game, less than one assist behind Natasha Cloud (7.4). She has led the league in assists for the last four seasons.
Her points average (12.1) is substantially lower than Kelsey Plum (20.3) and Jackie Young (18.2), who finished first and second in the voting. She’s shooting 46% this season, averaging seven fewer minutes per game than both Plum and Young.
Joining Plum and Young as starting guards are Sabrina Ionescu and Sue Bird.
“The only reason I would be bothered is if there was somebody on there that didn’t deserve it,” Vandersloot said. “That’s not the case. All those players deserve to be starters. I’m happy for all of them.”
Vandersloot completed one of the best point-guard performances in WNBA history to lead the Sky to a championship last year, averaging a double-double through the playoffs. She became the second player in WNBA history to have a playoff triple-double, joining Sheryl Swoopes. By Ticha Penichero’s standards, the league’s second all-time assist leader, it was the best performance by a point guard in WNBA history.
The Sky’s floor general is often acknowledged by coaches throughout the league as the best point guard. To her, that’s the recognition she appreciates.
“First the critics say, ‘she has to win a championship,’ ” Sky general manager/coach James Wade said. “Now, she’s won. She’s led the league in assists. She’s had clutch plays. She scored the championship-securing basket. I don’t know what else she has to do.
‘‘You see a lot of players get grandfathered into the All-Star starters even if they’re not having the type of years as ’Sloot. They skip over her and what she’s done.”
The votes among players, fans and media were mostly aligned, but there were some inconsistency among the starters. Bird, for example, was voted third by fans, ninth by media and seventh by players. Ionescu was voted sixth by fans, fourth by media and fifth by players.
The Sky concluded the third game of their three-game road trip Thursday against the Los Angeles Sparks. It was Parker’s first time playing in Crypto.com Arena, formerly the Staples Center, since 2019 and her first time playing in Los Angeles since signing with the Sky last year. When she came out of the tunnel for the pregame shootaround, she was welcomed by fans on either side of the tunnel.
Parker maintains that she hasn’t decided whether or not this will be her last season, saying that when she no longer enjoys the grind of preparing for a season, she’ll know it’s the end.