Las Vegas Aces 2022 Season Preview


The WNBA season begins for the Las Vegas Aces as they take on the Phoenix Mercury tonight. The team circled a championship for several years now. However, they believe this is the year they’ll finally triumph.

But how? 


The number one player to watch is Kelsey Plum. In their last two weeks of media availability, almost every Aces player mentioned Plum’s motivation. The rookies expressed surprise at how quick, athletic, and aggressive she is in person.  

After winning Sixth Woman of the Year in 2021, she’ll be in the starting lineup for Vegas this season. On Sunday, plum scored 16 points in the first half of their lone preseason game against the Lynx. According to new coach Becky Hammon, Plum came into camp in incredible shape. She is ready to take the next step and have a breakout year. 

“I was pretty hungry last year,” said Plum, “I just think that opportunity changes your ability to make plays…I’m always competitive as hell, and that will never change.” 

Another player joining Plum in the starting lineup: Dearica Hamby. Hamby, who has a couple of Sixth Woman awards of her own, will start in the frontcourt. She’s heading into her eighth season and seeking a productivity improvement. The 6’ 3″ forward will be a part of a smaller starting group, and Hammon will challenge her with rugged defensive assignments, both in the post and on the perimeter. 


Las Vegas took five players in April’s draft and signed an additional rookie after the draft. Only two remain on the roster heading into the regular season. 

This year, the team traded multiple 2023 picks for the number eight and number 13 selections. The Aces cut both players (Mya Hollingshed and Khayla Pointer.) So essentially, they traded 2023 picks for nothing. That’s…not great. 

But the team feels confident with the rookies they kept. Somehow, FGCU’s Kierstan Bell fell to Vegas at the 11th pick. Most mock drafts predicted the 6’ 1″ wing would go fourth or fifth. But Bell impressed in camp: she started the preseason game.  

There was also a lot of praise for Aisha Sheppard, the 23rd overall pick from Virginia Tech. Her teammates lauded the sharpshooter for her drive and adaptability. She impressed in her first WNBA action against the Lynx on Sunday, scoring 14 points.  


Yeah, yeah. All that is nice. But what about the best player on the team, 2020 MVP A’ja Wilson? 

She’s ready, too. Riquna Williams noted that Wilson has been more vocal during camp this year. She’s on a new contract, just put out a new shoe with Nike, and is the sole superstar on this team now that Liz Cambage is in Los Angeles. As she enters her fifth season in the WNBA, Wilson is hungry for hardware and not just for herself.  

Wilson talked about how she felt after the heartbreaking loss to Phoenix in the 2021 playoffs and how she uses it as motivation. 

“That feeling now just fuels me,” she said. “I love that I went through that. I love when that confetti falls on me, and it’s not in my favor. Because it makes me want to compete even more and just win. Bring dubs to Las Vegas.” 

Her game could look a little different this year. Without Cambage, she should have more room to operate in the post. She’ll also have to guard the opposing team’s best big. But she won’t be spending all her time in the paint; she’s also planning to shoot a lot more threes this season. 


Speaking of shooting more threes, new head coach Hammon made outside shooting the focus of her new system. Multiple players mentioned the amount of space Hammon’s system allows, and it showed in their first preseason game.  

The team attempted 23 three-pointers on Sunday. The team’s previous record for three-point attempts in a game since moving to Vegas in 2018? 23.  

When Andy Yamashita of the Las Vegas Review-Journal asked how long she thinks that record will last, Hammon said, “into Phoenix on Friday.” 

This tactic appears in how she and the front office constructed the roster. They re-signed Williams, who led the team in threes last season. The two rookies they kept are good long-range shooters. And they signed Theresa Plaisance, a big known for her ability to stretch the floor.  


In two words: a lot. 

The Storm brought back their central core (at least for one more year). The Sparks got a lot better, bringing in Cambage and Chennedy Carter. The Lynx also improved, signing Angel McCoughtry to win a championship in Sylvia Fowles’ final year. The Mercury somehow added Diamond DeShields AND Tina Charles to an already stacked roster. And that’s just the Western Conference. 

Over in the East, the Liberty and Sun both improved. The Mystics lost Tina Charles but should have a primarily healthy Elena Delle Donne. Oh yeah, and the Sky. You know, the defending champs? 

It won’t be straightforward for the Aces to finally win a championship. But they’ve got all the right pieces to win one: a top player in the league, a well-balanced and cohesive roster, and an exciting new coach.  

So…why not?  

About Jack Levenberg

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