Just under eight months ago, A’ja Wilson secured a rebound off a Courtney Williams missed jumper and went trotting down the court with massive smile on her face. She threw the ball up in the air in pure happiness, as the Las Vegas Aces secured their first WNBA championship, and the first major sports championship in Las Vegas history. It capped off an unbelievable season for the organization, Becky Hammon, and the team’s star players — mainly Wilson, Kelsey Plum, Chelsea Gray, and Jackie Young.
Many wondered how the Aces would approach the offseason, with most of their core remaining with the team under contract. Some thought they would maybe sit back and take a conservative approach, and run it back with the exact same squad - because why not?? They had just won a championship. The Aces front office surprised a lot of people, including myself, when they landed future Hall of Famer Candace Parker back in February. They followed that up with signing another very solid (and low-key underrated IMO) player in Alysha Clark. After making some big free agent signings, it was unclear whether or not they would retain their veteran players on expiring deals. But that was resolved when in the same week they re-signed both Sydney Colson and Kiah Stokes. So in a nutshell summarizing the Aces offseason: they are running it back with a championship roster, but also added a Hall of Famer and added some very tough depth — talk about a hell of an offseason!
One of the biggest things that I am curious to see develop with the Aces this season is chemistry. You’ve heard the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The Aces had incredible chemistry last season, and they won a championship. Adding players like Candace Parker and Alysha Clark definitely sounds amazing on paper, but there is always the chemistry factor to consider. It’s hard to imagine CP3 coming in and having a negative impact on chemistry, but you never know. It’s obviously going to take some time to sync and mesh together, adding another big to the frontcourt alongside Wilson.
The Aces are in full swing at training camp and have hit the ground running!— Mark Schindler (@MG_Schindler) May 6, 2023
Asked Candace Parker about how she and A'ja Wilson are starting to mesh on either end of the court, what that feeling out process has been like, and what she wants to keep repping out in practice pic.twitter.com/dbRXAnVQuM
The Wilson-Parker frontcourt is going to be something to keep an eye on throughout the season. It will be interesting to see how those two players learn to coexist and if Wilson’s usage or numbers dip at all. After putting together the greatest offensive team in WNBA history last season and breaking records left and right, does the Aces’ offense slow down at all this year?
I’m also interested to watch Kelsey Plum’s continued evolution this year. Plum was unstoppable at times last season, leading the league in three-pointers made, and nearly leading the league in scoring. She jumped from 14.8 points per game in 2021 (came off the bench) to 20.2 points per game in 2022. Her game really blossomed last year as a starter and was so much fun to watch.
Where does Plum’s game go in 2023? What is the expectation? It would be really fun to see her break the WNBA record for threes in a season (Taurasi, 121 in 2006) after coming close last season at 113.
Matching up with New York
It’s basically going to be a two-horse race for WNBA title this season, as long as everything goes as predicted. As it stands right now, Las Vegas is the title favorite at +110 odds. Right on their tail is the New York Liberty at +130. After the Liberty the next best odds are +1400 for the Washington Mystics.
The Aces/Liberty showdowns this season are going to be epic. New York added heavy reinforcements to its squad this offseason in Breanna Stewart, Jonquel Jones and Courtney Vandersloot. The Liberty core last year of Sabrina Ionescu, Betnijah Laney, Stefanie Dolson and Marine Johannès was already tough, and they added three absolute hoopers. It will be a surprise to see anyone but Aces and Liberty in the WNBA Finals this fall, but you never know.