The WNBA is introducing a substitution pattern so wacky at its 2019 All-Star Game that Lynx rookie Napheesa Collier is worried it could be “mass chaos.”
In what feels like a modified version of hockey substitutions, a WNBA spokesperson confirmed to SB Nation each team will be able to deploy one live-ball sub per quarter during Saturday evening’s event.
These special substitutions will see one player in a designated “check-in spot” near mid-court wait for a player to tag her onto the floor. Only the team on offense can swap a player in while the ball is live. Additionally, a player throwing the ball in-bounds cannot be live-subbed. Regular substitutions will occur throughout the game as well.
“I think it’s a little weird,” Collier told SB Nation. “I don’t know why we’re doing that ... I have a feeling it’s going to be like mass chaos with people running on and off the court.”
The hope for the league is to increase the pace of play, but at first glance these rules could prove clunky. The two all-star teams will each have just one practice Friday before the game, and those aren’t typically taken seriously. These sub patterns aren’t something any of the players are used to.
“You’re gonna see some weirdness going on,” Mystics all-star guard Kristi Toliver told media after a win over the Dream on Sunday. “We’re gonna be some guinea pigs doing crazy stuff.”
In addition to the new substitution pattern, the league will be reducing the shot clock from 24 to 20 seconds. (The clock will still reset to 14 seconds.)
The WNBA has been experimenting on many fronts for all-star this season. For the first time ever, the league will hold its three-point shootout and skills competition the day before the game itself on Friday at 7 p.m. ET.
Also for the first time the league aired a live all-star team draft with its two leading vote-getters, Elena Delle Donne and A’ja Wilson, as captains. During the draft, players were able to be traded for the first time as the teams swapped coaching staffs, and Team Delle Donne moved Napheesa Collier for Tina Charles.
The 2019 WNBA All-Star Game will tip off at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.