Aces

Las Vegas Aces: A Week in Review

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We may be over a month away from the start of the 2022 WNBA season, but the Las Vegas Aces are staying busy. With a lot of news about players at home and abroad, there’s a lot to unpack about the last seven days. Here’s an Aces week in review: 

A New Shoe for 22

On Monday, Nike revealed A’ja Wilson’s newest player edition shoe: the Nike Cosmic Unity “Generations” shoe. The design is inspired by Wilson’s grandmother, Hattie, someone who has been very influential in Wilson’s life. The shoe is purple, an homage to Hattie’s pearls, and her name can be found on the inside of the tongue on the shoe. The new shoes are made of 25% recycled material.

These are Wilson’s first player edition shoes. She does not yet have a signature shoe, though it feels like the 2020 MVP should be towards the top of the waiting list to get one. This player edition shoe further solidifies her as not only one of the best players in the league, but also one of the more marketable stars. 

Aces Abroad

From a star in Vegas to a star across the world: Aces player JiSu Park won the MVP award for the Women’s Korean Basketball League on Tuesday. This marks her third time winning the award, and her second consecutive win. At only 23 years old, this is quite a feat. Her team, the Cheongju KB Stars, clinched the regular season title, and advanced to the four-team playoffs, where they won their first game on Thursday.

The Aces extended a qualifying offer to Park in January. While she has not yet signed, she is expected to be back in Vegas for the 2022 season. Park has averaged about 10 minutes per game during her first three seasons in the league, though the 6’5” center could see her role expand with Liz Cambage’s departure. 

Aces at Home

The USA Basketball Women’s National Team began their spring minicamp on Wednesday. Four Aces were selected for the 12-person roster: Chelsea Gray, Dearica Hamby, Kelsey Plum, and Wilson. The camp is running from March 30-April 2.

These camps help to determine the rosters and build chemistry for upcoming international competitions. Team USA will look to continue their dominance on the world’s biggest stages at the FIBA World Cup in September, and the Olympics in 2024. Expect at least one member of the Aces to represent the US in those two competitions. 

A Look Ahead

The WNBA Draft is slated for April 11th, and the Aces should have a lot of options. With Cambage gone, you’d think they’d be looking for another big. But after re-signing Kiah Stokes and (probably) Park, and bringing in Kalani Brown and Theresa Plaisance during the offseason, they have enough size.

Vegas also has plenty of guard depth, with Gray, Plum, Riquna Williams, and Jackie Young. Where they could use some reinforcement is on the wing.  

Potential Targets

It’s impossible to know which players might be available when the Aces make their first selection with the 11th pick. Perhaps the choice is Kierstan Bell from Florida Gulf Coast. At 6’1, Bell is a good rebounder for her size, and scores with ease. She struggled a bit from beyond the arc this season, which could cause concern in the Aces’ front office. Still, it would be tough to pass up such an electric scorer if Bell was available at 11.  

Maybe they will go with the hometown kid, Rae Burrell. This season at Tennessee has been a bit of a disappointment for the 6’1 guard, who had a breakout year in 2020-2021. She still put up decent numbers, however, and shoots above 34% from three for her career. On a team with Wilson and Hamby, there will be a lot of opportunities for shooters. Plus, it’s always fun to draft a player from the city you play in.  

A third option could be Georgia Tech’s Lorela Cubaj. At 6’4, she provides more size than the other two, and could play forward or center. She’s not an elite offensive player, but with all the offensive skill already on the Aces’ roster, she won’t need to be. Instead, she can do what she does best: the dirty work. Cubaj is a great rebounder, a great shot blocker, and she understands her role on both sides of the ball. For a team with title aspirations, Cubaj could be the perfect fit.

About Jack Levenberg

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