NEW YORK — The WNBA is finished with East vs. West in the All-Star game. The mid-season showcase will feature the 22 top players voted into the game, and captains will sort out the rosters from there.
Under the league's new format, two captains will draft teams from the players who voted as All-Stars, and for the first time there's no requirement that they're split evenly among conference lines. It's a similar format to what the NBA used this past season.
"Obviously watching the NBA go through it, it was kind of a unique twist that made it a little more fun and a little more competitive," said Sue Bird, who is tied with Tamika Catchings for most All-Star appearances at 10.
Bird hopes that the WNBA televise the All-Star draft, something that the NBA didn't do.
"Maybe they'll learn and show the actual draft. Take it back to elementary school day," Bird said. "You get picked first great, if you go last, you're still an All-Star."
The captains for the game on July 28 in Minneapolis will be the players with the highest vote totals from a combination of fans, media, coaches and player ballots.
Diana Taurasi joked that if she was captain there was no way she'd take Mercury teammate Brittney Griner.
"I've played with her enough, it's time to go with someone else," the eight-time All-Star said laughing.
Fans will only vote for their top 10 choices while players, coaches and the media panel will each vote for 22 players, selecting nine guards and 13 frontcourt players. Players and coaches may not vote for members of their own team.
"Delivering on the promise to constantly innovate and entertain is driving this All-Star format change for our fans and partners," said WNBA President Lisa Borders. "This bold and innovative approach to Verizon WNBA All-Star provides an opportunity to put the best of the best in our showcase event."
The coaches with the best records following games on July 13 will lead the All-Star teams. The head coach with the top record at that point will coach the team captained by the highest vote-getter. The coaches and captains will choose the starters for the game from the players they draft to their teams. The starting lineups will be revealed on ESPN the day before the All-Star game.
The NBA changed its All-Star Game format this season having captains pick their teams from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves. The NBA chose its captains based on the highest vote-getter by fan ballot from each conference instead of just the two highest overall.