Minnesota Lynx rookie forward Napheesa Collier joined some elite company on Monday afternoon.
Announced by the WNBA on Monday, the sixth overall pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft out of Connecticut was named as an injury replacement for the 2019 WNBA All-Star Game on July 27 in Las Vegas.
Collier, who was selected to the game by new WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, replaces Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson, who is currently sidelined with an ankle injury.
With her earning her first nod to the league’s All-Star Game in her first professional season, Collier becomes the first Lynx rookie since Maya Moore in 2011 to make an appearance in the showcase in their first WNBA season.
She is also the fourth Lynx rookie overall, joining Moore, Seimone Augustus and Betty Lennox, to be named to the All-Star Game during their rookie campaigns.
In being selected to the All-Star Game, Collier joins fellow Minnesota teammates Sylvia Fowles and Odyssey Sims as reserves for the game at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Fowles, making her sixth appearance, and Sims, making her first, were announced as reserves for the game last week.
With the addition of Collier, Minnesota will send at least three players to the All-Star Game for a WNBA-record seventh time in franchise history.
Although she wasn’t initially voted or selected to take part in the annual game, many have viewed Collier as a deserving candidate to be an All-Star in her rookie year.
While etching her name as one of the top candidates for Rookie of the Year honors at the midway point in the regular season, Collier is averaging 11 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.9 steals in 32.5 minutes per game as a starter for Minnesota this summer.
“She’s hard to guard. She can shoot the 3, she can take it off the dribble, she can shoot jumpers, she’s posting up. Nobody can guard her,” Odyssey Sims said earlier this season of her teammate. “The girl is good. Bottom line, there isn’t anything else to say. We got the best rookie out of all the rookies in the draft.”
Collier currently ranks third among rookies in scoring, second in rebounding and fourth in assists. She also ranks third in the WNBA in steals and fifth in minutes per contest, further proving how she has been a large piece to the Lynx already in her WNBA career.
When many rookies experience somewhat of a slump and multiple up-and-down moments throughout points in their rookie seasons, Collier has been able to avoid that for the most part through the first 19 games.
Along with Collier’s ability to already establish herself as a two-way player, she has shown maturity and the ability to bounce back quickly after less-than-stellar performances that isn’t very common with rookie players.
Those characteristics have quickly drawn the appreciation of Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve.
“She’s still collecting knowledge. She has the perfect temperament for it, she’s got the right mindset. She’s not going to lose her confidence,” Reeve told the media following practice last week. “I think there were parts of the game where maybe she didn’t feel as comfortable, but she’s not afraid to make a play.”
Throughout the season to this point, Collier’s play has resulted in many viewing her as one of the top rookies in the WNBA and one that could end up finding her way into the 2019 All-Star Game.
On Monday, Commissioner Engelbert and the league agreed, officially naming the Lynx rookie as an injury replacement for the game in Vegas later this month.
Collier, Fowles and Sims will represent Minnesota during the 16th WNBA All-Star Game at 2:30 p.m. CT on July 27 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. The game will be televised live on ABC.