The teams have been announced for the 2023 PLL All-Star game. The formatting for the All-Star selections on the PLL website could be better, which is a minor issue. When you Google “2023 PLL All-Stars,” the first link features an entire page of starters and reserves displayed without any breakdown by position. This lack of organization makes it difficult to compare the teams. Although another graphic features each team individually, it fails to separate the starters from the reserve players. Releasing this information in a more user-friendly way would allow fans to compare teams and their selections without additional steps easily.
On a more positive note, I appreciate the inclusion of Rising Stars vs Veterans in the All-Star game. It demonstrates the sport’s growth and distinguishes between those players that have been around before the PLL and those who have only played professional lacrosse for three years or less. The selections show that many deserving individuals have made the All-Star team despite their relatively short careers, which is great for the sport. It has been a pleasure to witness the development of these players, and it will be exciting to see them establish themselves as the new faces of the league. This separation between Rising Stars and Veterans further emphasizes the legitimacy of the PLL as a professional sports league, which is a significant and positive direction for the sport.
Who Deserved It?
Without a doubt, some players are no-brainers for All-Star selections. With 21 points (18G, 3A), Ryder Garnsey is undoubtedly the most deserving player this season. This is his first All-Star selection in five seasons as a professional lacrosse player. Initially, many assumed his Week 1 dominance was merely an exceptional week, but he has surpassed expectations and maintained his high level of play throughout the first four games of the season. It will be interesting to see if he can sustain this performance for the remainder of the season, especially after the break caused by the World Lacrosse Men’s Championship.
Among the impressive rookies, Gavin Adler deserves special recognition. Being the first overall pick comes with high expectations, particularly for a defenseman. Adler has surpassed all of these expectations this season. He will likely have a long professional career and earn numerous All-Star selections.
Tucker Dordevic has proven to be the steal of the draft, leading all midfielders in points with 16. What’s even more impressive is that he is continually improving. Although his shooting percentage (25%) leaves room for improvement, having only one turnover in four games is remarkable. Another rookie worth mentioning is Mike Sisselberger, currently boasting a 70% face-off win rate. I am still not over the fact that the Archers could have selected Dordevic in the first round and then acquired Sisselberger in the second round, but hindsight is always 20/20.
Who Didn’t Deserve It?
I have reservations about including Dhane Smith on this list in any capacity, despite being a Buffalo Bandits fan. While he has accumulated 5 points in two games, which is commendable, it falls short of All-Star status. This issue arises due to the PLL’s decision to hold the All-Star Weekend in the middle of the season. Considering the short duration of the season and players’ absences due to the NLL Playoffs, it would be more appropriate to schedule the All-Star game the weekend before the championship game. Although Dhane is undeniably one of the best players on the planet, making an All-Star selection based on only two games played shouldn’t be an automatic gimme.
Numerous deserving attackmen could argue for their selection to the All-Star Weekend. As I will mention later, a few players have been wrongly left off this list. So, why is Logan Wisnauskas an All-Star this year? I am a big supporter of Wisnauskas and even predicted him to win Attackman of the Year this year (although that seems unlikely now). However, seeing him named as an All-Star starter this year is perplexing. With 11 points in four games, he hasn’t played poorly, but he has fallen short of expectations following his incredible rookie year. Currently, he ranks 16th in points among attackmen. While it’s understandable to want to support young stars, creating a narrative without on-field performance to back it up is questionable.
Who Was Snubbed?
This is a challenging category to analyze for several reasons. The league comprises numerous talented All-Star caliber players, regardless of their stat lines. The distinction between starters and reserve players highlights the difference between the two categories. However, the PLL website lists Rob Pannell as a reserve player for the Veterans squad. This decision doesn’t make sense in any world. Pannell is tied for second in the league in points with 18 and is arguably having one of his most impressive seasons in his 11-year professional career. There may be a reason for this decision, such as an injury, but it still appears odd.
Applying the same logic, there are a few other things that strike me as odd. Connor Fields, Michael Sowers, and Chris Gray all have similar point totals. However, Sowers and Gray were named as All-Star starters, while Fields didn’t even make the reserve roster. While points alone don’t tell the whole story, Fields has performed high this year, scoring 11 goals and providing two assists. His Archers teammate, Mac O’Keefe, was selected over him despite having the same point total, with some 2-pointers sprinkled in. Given their position and team, either player could have made a valid argument for selection. Even more surprising is the absence of Jackson Morrill, who should have easily been chosen over either of the Archers’ attackmen. I say this as an Archers fan.
Which Team Wins?
Now, the pressing question: which team will emerge victorious? Typically, All-Star games do not showcase the most competitive play. However, let’s assume that this game is played with utmost competitiveness and a championship on the line. In that scenario, who would win? Personally, I am inclined to root for the younger guys as I enjoy witnessing the development of the league’s future. Nevertheless, the Veteran’s team is stacked with talent, making it difficult to argue against their success. Experience matters, especially in games like this. Hence, I have to give the edge to the Veterans in this matchup.