Playing her first full season since 2019, Elena Delle Donne is leading the way for the Mystics on the court and the team in the fan vote for the WNBA All-Star starters. On Friday, the WNBA announced the first voting returns of the year with Delle Done in fifth place overall along with rookie Shakira Austin and Natasha Cloud among the top 30 voting recipients.
Delle Donne is behind three other former MVPs in A'ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart and Candace Parker with 13,626 votes. Aces' point guard Kesley Plum is in fourth place, just ahead of the Mystics franchise player, after Plum moved back into a starting role this season.
The two-time MVP is Washington's top scorer as we are now over a third of the way through the season. Her 15.8 ppg average is 14th-best in the league all while having to sit out games as a part of load management in her back recovery.
Austin and Cloud are 29th and 30th on the list of voting returns - both looking for their first All-Star nods of their careers.
A notable absence, though, is 2021 All-Star and current Team USA member Ariel Atkins. Coming off a career-best year where she averaged 16.2 ppg, the five-year veteran is maintaining her volume and contributions to the Mystics all while improving her efficiency. Through 15 games, her 43.7% field goal percentage and 37.3% mark from 3-point range are the second-highest of her career.
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It's been Atkins who has stepped up in contests where Delle Donne has been forced to sit. She's reached 20 points three times this season and scored double-figures in all but two contests. On top of that, too, Atkins is one of the premier defenders in the WNBA, consistently taking one of the toughest matchups in each contest. She's on track to receive her fifth straight All-Defensive Team nod if she keeps up her defensive intensity this season.
Atkins was designated an All-Star in 2021 as she made Team USA's roster competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The All-Star Game that year pitted Team USA against a traditional All-Star-selected team where the members of Team USA were removed from consideration.
Fans vote on the All-Star Game starters where the top four guards and top six frontcourt players receive selections. The top two overall vote-getters will be named team captains.
In the two previous instances where there have been All-Star captains - instead of the Team USA exhibition or the traditional East-West format - Delle Donne was named captain both times.
The fan vote accounts for 50% of the selection process for the starters with the media and player votes receiving 25% each. The league's coaches will select the 12 reserves.
Fans can vote online, in the WNBA app and on Twitter by hashtagging the player's name (ex. #NatashaCloud) along with #WNBAAllStar included in the tweet.
The WNBA All-Star Game will be played at the homecourt of the defending champion Chicago Sky at Wintrust Arena. It will take place on Sunday, July 10 (ABC 1 p.m. ET).