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Hoops Happening: A’ja Wilson improves upon already-stunning debut season with Rookie of the Month sweep

The Las Vegas Aces’ star is the heavy favorite to win the Rookie of the Year. Plus, a roundup of other award news, links and more. This is today in women’s basketball for Tuesday, August 21, 2018!

A’ja Wilson has delighted basketball fans in an exciting All-Star rookie season.
Photo by Eli Eijadi/NBAE via Getty Images

A’ja Wilson has been awarded the WNBA Rookie of the Month honor for August 2018, making it a sweep on the award for the season. In August, Wilson bested all other rookie performances with 22.8 points and 6 rebounds per game.

Her sophisticated scoring was second in the league for August, but Wilson has managed to conclude her rookie season tied at third place in the WNBA in scoring alongside prolific producers Diana Taurasi and Elena Delle Donne, and ahead of Brittney Griner (sixth) and Maya Moore (ninth). She is sixth in rebounding for the season, ahead of defensive stalwarts Jessica Breland, Brittney Griner and Chiney Ogwumike, who are seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively.

To make room on her rookie awards shelf for the August Rookie of the Month honor, Wilson will have to slide over her Player of the Week award (week ending July 9) and anything related to this year’s All-Star Game, to which Wilson was selected. The one disappointment for Wilson and the Las Vegas Aces, however, is that they were just edged out of the playoffs, a decision likely helped along by their early-August no-show against the Mystics due to travel delays and resulting in a forfeit.

Still, the future looks casino lights-bright for the Aces and Wilson, who is expected to win the 2018 Rookie of the Year award by unanimous vote.

2018 WNBA Peak Performers

Peak Performer trophies, designed by Tiffany & Co., will be engraved with the names of the following three players for their excellence in scoring, rebounding and assisting throughout the 2018 WNBA season:

Of the players receiving this award, Cambage has been most integral to getting her team to the playoffs, with a 43-point and 13-rebound performance making the difference between another battle against the Aces and a clinched eighth seed in the playoffs. This, plus other mind-blowing performances that kept the Wings in the playoff hunt make Cambage a top candidate for MVP.

Fowles is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, winning the award most recently in 2016, and her 2018 production puts her at the top of the list to win it a fourth time. Fowles finished the regular season at the top of the rebounding standings, with 11.9 per game. She also averaged 17.7 points per game in scoring and, therefore, a double-double for the season.

Despite being a seasoned veteran, Vandersloot is arguably the Most Improved Player of the 2018 season. She improved upon already strong production by setting and breaking record after record following the All-Star Break. Vandersloot finished the season atop the assists list, with 8.9 per game and she also scored 12.5 points per game on the season.

More awards!

Lots of other regular-season awards were handed down yesterday by the league and here’s a roundup up who won:

Players of the Month

This award is for regular-season games played in August. It is the second Player of the Month award for these players, as Delle Donne and Taurasi both won it in June.

Coach of the Month

The Coach of the Month award for August is Collen’s second of the season and further demonstrates that she is the top candidate for Coach of the Year. Sandy Brondello (Phoenix Mercury) won the award in June in June.

Players of the Week

This award is for games played August 13-19, and it is the first time the two players have won the award this season. Jones, the Most Improved Player for 2017, has made a strong case for herself for the 2018 Sixth Woman of the Year award.

Next up on the court ...

The 2018 WNBA Playoffs start tonight with two one-and-done first-round elimination matchups. The Dallas Wings take on the Mercury at Wells Fargo Arena at Arizona State University in Phoenix and the Minnesota Lynx take on the Sparks at Staples Center in LA. Both games will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and the action begins at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Stay tuned for previews and other playoffs coverage!

Drink up, link lush!

Deandre Ayton is backing his words with cold-hard cash, showing support for the woman he considers “the Michael Jordan of the WNBA” and her Phoenix Mercury team. Ayton purchased a block of 300 tickets to the win-or-go-home affair for fans to claim on a first-come, first-served basis.

Ayton, the top pick in the 2018 NBA Draft and rookie center with the Phoenix Suns has a clear goal: Pack the house and help the Mercury make it to the second round. Plus, Ayton obviously knows greatness when he sees it and, therefore, doesn’t want fans to miss out on what should be a spectacular show in Phoenix.

In other WNBA postseason news ...

Devereaux Peters watched most of the season from home after being waived in the preseason and sounded off repeatedly against haters and trolls. But she’s now with the Mercury, and clearly very excited that either the Lynx or Sparks will go home after the first round.

The Lynx and Sparks have battled in the Finals in three straight seasons, with the Lynx winning it in 2015 and 2017 and the Sparks winning it 2016. Thanks to a wave of new talent in the league, neither the Sparks nor the Lynx has shown the dominance of years past. Thus, the chance for two teams not named Lynx or Sparks to make it to the Finals stage is quit high!


How to #WatchThemWork during the 2018 WNBA Playoffs

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