'Tis the season for some new WNBA all-stars
A WNBA All-Star Game without Diana Taurasi? Say what?
No Maya Moore either?
Ditto for Breanna Stewart?
Yep, it will be a different kind of WNBA All-Star Game next month in Las Vegas. Then again, it has been a different kind of start to the WNBA season.
Due to injuries and other unique circumstances, star power in the WNBA -- traditional, familiar star power, at least -- has been a bit dimmed so far this summer, and that adds some intrigue to all-star voting, which ends in 10 days.
Taurasi, the WNBA's all-time leading scorer and arguably the most recognizable name in the game, has been out recovering from off-season back surgery. She is due to return soon though.
Four-time league champion Maya Moore is taking the season off for personal reasons while reigning WNBA most valuable player Breanna Stewart is out for the season after rupturing her Achilles tendon in a Euroleague game overseas this spring.
Sue Bird is out for the season with a knee injury, Skylar Diggins-Smith has not played yet due to recently giving birth to her son. Seimone Augustus is out indefinitely with a knee problem, as is Angel McCoughtry, all likely all-stars in any given season.
Meanwhile, former Naperville Central star and perennial all-star Candace Parker has played in only four games because she was out with a hamstring injury to start the season. And foreign-born star Emma Meesseman is missing a month right now in order to compete for her native Belgium in the EuroBasket Championships.
So as WNBA fans complete their all-star ballots before the polls close July 9, they likely will be picking from some different names, players such as Natasha Howard from Seattle, DeWanna Bonner from Phoenix, Jonquel Jones from Connecticut, Kia Nurse from New York and rookie Arike Ogunbowale from Dallas, all of whom have stepped up their games in the absence of some of the biggest names in the game.
Bonner and Howard are the top two scorers in the league. Jones leads the WNBA in both rebounding and blocks, and Ogunbowale leads Dallas in scoring just months after being a college student.
"I know it was a big deal before the season started (with all the star players out of commission)," Chicago Sky guard Allie Quigley said. "But now that it's going, the season has kind of taken on a life of its own and other players are stepping up."
One player who has always maintained a high level of production but has usually flown under the all-star radar is Quigley's teammate and wife, Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot.
Over her previous eight seasons, Vandersloot has made the WNBA all-star team just once (2011). And she has never been named first-team all-WNBA.
Maybe that's about to change, especially in this different-looking season.
Vandersloot is widely regarded as the best point guard and best passer in the WNBA today. She is leading the WNBA in assists per game (7.9 apg) after finishing as the league's assist leader in three other seasons (2014, 2017, 2018).
Quigley, one of the top 3-point shooters in the WNBA, and Diamond DeShields, the Sky's leading scorer and one of the most athletic players in the league, also should get all-star consideration.
To vote for WNBA all-stars, visit WNBA.com and vote for your favorite players on the players page. Fans may vote for up to 10 players every 24 hours until July 9.
On to the semis: Megan Rapinoe has been involved in her fair share of off-field "moments" during the Women's World Cup, but the American superstar maintained her focus Friday to lead the U.S. Women's National soccer team to the World Cup semifinals.
Rapinoe scored both goals as the U.S. defeated host France 2-1 in a quarterfinal in Paris.
The U.S., looking for its second straight World Cup championship and fourth overall, will face England in the semifinals Tuesday.
• Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw