A’ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart trade co-captains Sue Bird, Sylvia Fowles in final draft move

The 2022 WNBA All-Star rosters are set after the captains built their rosters through a player draft that aired on Saturday afternoon. A’ja Wilson and Sue Bird were set to captain Team Wilson while Breanna Stewart and Sylvia Fowles were in charge of captaining Team Stewart.

But in the final move of the day, the duo traded their legendary co-captains so that Storm teammates Stewart and Bird will lead a squad and Wilson will pair up with a fellow former MVP in Fowles.

Wilson, who is a captain for the second time in her career, made the first overall pick. Stewart took the first pick in the reserve round. Selections are listed with their overall pick, team and position.

Las Vegas Aces' A'ja Wilson (22) reacts after she was called for a foul against the Dallas Wings during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Sunday, June 5, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Las Vegas Aces’ A’ja Wilson (22) reacts after she was called for a foul against the Dallas Wings during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Sunday, June 5, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

2022 WNBA All-Star Team Wilson

Head coach: Becky Hammon, Las Vegas Aces

— Starters —

A’ja Wilson, Aces (F)

Sylvia Fowles, Lynx (C) — received in trade involving Sue Bird

1 — Candace Parker, Sky (F)

3 — Kelsey Plum, Aces (G)

6 — Sabrina Ionescu, Liberty (G) — received in trade involving Nneka Ogwumike

— Reserves —

8 — Rhyne Howard, Dream (G)

10 — Dearica Hamby, Aces (F)

12 — Courtney Vandersloot, Sky (G)

14 — Ariel Atkins, Mystics (G)

16 — Brionna Jones, Sun (F)

18 — Natasha Howard, Liberty (F)

Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart pulls down a rebound during a WNBA basketball game against the Minnesota Lynx, Friday, May 6, 2022, in Seattle. The Storm won 97-74. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart made her first pick Kelsey Plum, Wilson’s Aces’ teammate. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

2022 WNBA All-Star Team Stewart

Head coach: James Wade, Chicago Sky

— Starters —

Breanna Stewart, Storm (F)

Sue Bird, Storm (G) — received in trade involving Fowles

2 — Jackie Young, Aces (G)

4 — Jonquel Jones, Sun (F)

5 — Nneka Ogwumike, Sparks (F) — received in trade involving Ionescu

— Reserves —

7 Jewell Loyd, Storm (G)

9 — Kahleah Copper, Sky (G/F)

11 — Skylar Diggins-Smith, Mercury (G)

13 — Alyssa Thomas, Sun (F)

15 — Arike Ogunbowale, Wings (G)

17 — Emma Meesseman, Sky (F)

Who won the All-Star draft?

The biggest winner of the draft might have been Stewart’s fabric draft notebook with athletic tape on it reading “Stewie’s draft clipboard” in marker. Both captains were confident in their team after the initial picks and couldn’t help telling each other a variation of “that was good. That was a good pick,” after each selection.

Drafting Sky players to rev up the hometown crowd was a focus for each and the four Chicago players were split evenly. Parker and Vandersloot are on Team Wilson while Copper and Meesseman landed on Team Stewart.

Wilson relied heavily on Aces teammates, understandable given their offensive output this season. Most All-Star games don’t feature strong defense. The 2020 MVP selected Plum, the league’s second-leading scorer behind Stewart’s 21.4 points per game, with the third pick and Dearica Hamby with the 10th pick.

“I had to pick Jackie Young in the first round or else this is going to be the Aces. [The] Team Wilson Aces,” Stewart said on the ESPN broadcast.

Team Stewart might as well be Team Stewart Storm after the last-minute trade of co-captain legends. It’s a special move for Bird’s last All-Star Game and seeing as she’s often credited the Storm’s drafting of Stewart as reviving her career. They won two of Bird’s four titles together. The starting trio of Stewart, Bird and Loyd are now on one roster though Loyd is a reserve.

Each had selected a player who notched a triple-double this season and they joked it would an in-game contest of who had the first one for each team. But at the end of the draft, Stewart sent Sabrina Ionescu to Team Wilson in exchange for forward Nneka Ogwumike. Wilson felt her team was too big and wanted a guard, she said. Parker, who has two triple-doubles this season, is also on her roster.

Stewart has three of the top-four league scorers while Wilson did lean into the paint play with four of the five leading rebounders. The real winner be determined on Sunday when it’s up to the coaches to figure out how to put the pieces together.

All-Star draft selection process

Wilson and Stewart finished first and second, respectively, in fan voting. Bird and Fowles, both of whom have announced their impending retirements, are serving as co-captains in honor of their final appearances.

The captains selected from the six remaining starters first before moving on to the reserves. Starters were voted on by a combination of fans, media members and players. Reserves are selected by coaches, who cannot vote for their own players.

Brittney Griner, who remains “wrongfully detained” in Russia, according to the U.S. government, was named an honorary starter and was not available for selection in the draft.

Chicago Sky head coach James Wade and Las Vegas Aces coach Becky Hammon will lead their first All-Star games. It will be held at Wintrust Arena in Chicago on Sunday, July 10. The skills competitions will be held the day prior.

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