WNBA announces skills challenge field, rule changes for All-Star Game

ByMechelle Voepel ESPN logo
Friday, July 8, 2022

CHICAGO -- Connecticut's Jonquel Jones, Atlanta's Rhyne Howard, New York's Sabrina Ionescu and Chicago's Courtney Vandersloot headline the list of eight players who will participate in Saturday's skills challenge as part of WNBA All-Star Weekend, the league said Friday.

Jones was the league MVP in 2021. Ionescu and Howard were the No. 1 draft picks in 2020 and '22, respectively, and are taking part in their first All-Star Game. Ionescu is coming off her second triple-double of the season Wednesday, and third of her career.

Vandersloot is the longest-tenured player for the Sky, who won the WNBA title last season and are hosting the All-Star Game for the first time. She has led the league in assists six times, including the past five years in a row.

The skills challenge and 3-point contest (participants for that were announced Thursday) will be held at McCormick Place in front of participants from the Nike Tournament of Champions and Nike Girls Nationals. The skills challenge will have eight teams consisting of one WNBA player and one athlete from the Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) participating in the 2022 Nike Nationals. The teams will compete head-to-head in an obstacle course relay competition that tests dribbling, passing, agility and shooting skills.

The other WNBA players in the skills challenge are Las Vegas guards Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young, Indiana forward NaLyssa Smith and Chicago forward Azura Stevens. Plum and Howard are also competing in the 3-point contest.

Both events will be televised beginning at 3 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN.

The league on Friday also announced three special rules for Sunday's All-Star Game (1 p.m. ET, ABC) at Wintrust Arena.

There will be a 4-point shot available, with four circles -- two at each end of the court -- above the current 3-point line at a distance of 28 feet from the rim. Any basket made by a player who has contact with one of those circles upon attempting the shot will be credited as 4 points. The shot clock will go down to 20 seconds from the standard 24, but the reset after an offensive rebound will remain at 14. And automatic points will be given for free throws, rather than the player actually shooting them. The only time players will physically attempt a free throw will be during the last 2 minutes of the fourth quarter and during the entirety of any overtime periods.