In just her fifth WNBA season, Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier will be making her third All-Star appearance after being selected as a reserve for the 2023 WNBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Collier was noted in as a reserve player by the WNBA coaches for the game, which will tip off tonight — Saturday — at 7:30 PM CT on ABC. A week before the annual showcase of the league’s top stars, Collier found out she would be suiting up for Team Stewart after being drafted by New York Liberty forward Breanna Stewart in the All-Star Draft along with Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson, who is the captain of Team Wilson.
“I’m really grateful,” Collier said this week. “The players that are on this list at All-Star are the best in the league and to be named with them and be able to play with them and not just against them, I think it’s gonna be really fun.”
Collier, who is the seventh Lynx player to be named an All-Star three or more times, will be the lone Lynx representative taking part in the showcase. The weekend kicks off with the 3-Point Contest and Skills Challenge on Friday followed by the 19th annual game on Saturday at Michelob ULTRA Arena.
Collier thinks the game being played in Las Vegas is a great location for an event such as All-Star Weekend, and it helps that the NBA’s Summer League is being held there at the same time with a flood of basketball fans already in town.
“I think it’s a great host city. They’ve always done a really great job in the past,” she said. “Having Summer League there, there’s extra people there who you know are interested in basketball, so I think it’s a great opportunity to convert even more women basketball fans. And my Timberwolves team is there, so it’s really cool to be able to support them too because obviously I’m not there in the winter. Hopefully vice versa, they’ll be coming to the game. I think it’s a great opportunity.”
Collier is off to an MVP-caliber season in 2023, leading the Lynx while averaging 21.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocks entering the All-Star break. Collier’s scoring mark ranks fourth in the WNBA, while her 7.7 rebounds per game is 14th in the league. Earlier this month, she earned her first Western Conference Player of the Week honor for games played June 26-July 2, the third time she’s claimed that honor.
All of that work has deservingly earned her a spot in the All-Star Game, and if it continues on this trajectory, should put her into the MVP conversation as well.
“I feel like I’ve really grown my game the past couple of years, especially coming into this season,” Collier said. “It’s nice to see that hard work paying off.”
Collier said leading up to the game that her favorite memory from her last two appearances was when Indiana Fever guard Erica Wheeler won All-Star Game MVP in 2019. As for something she is most looking forward to, Collier said she wants to see Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner dunk in the game and is looking forward to playing alongside New York point guard Courtney Vandersloot.
Although she will be representing herself, Minnesota and the Lynx on a national stage, Collier is also looking forward to the chance to continue to be a role model to younger kids and further the exposure of the women’s game to all.
“Being a role model for younger kids, especially younger girls, is something that I take really seriously, especially now that I have a daughter,” Collier said. “To be someone that younger kids look up to, I think is really important. Especially because, growing up, the people we looked up to were mostly men playing sports because we didn’t have the access to see the women playing.
“To be a woman playing sports and to hopefully be a role model, I do take that seriously and I try to exhibit that every time that I step on the court.”
2023 WNBA All-Star Rosters
- A’ja Wilson
- Chelsea Gray
- Jackie Young
- Aliyah Boston
- Arike Ogunbowale
- Kelsey Plum
- Allisha Gray
- Alyssa Thomas
- Cheyenne Parker
- DeWanna Bonner
- Elena Delle Donne
- Breanna Stewart
- Brittney Griner
- Jewell Loyd
- Satou Sabally
- Nneka Ogwumike
- Courtney Vandersloot
- Sabrina Ionescu
- Ezi Magbegor
- Napheesa Collier
- Kelsey Mitchell
- Kahleah Copper