The Las Vegas Aces won their first title in 2022. And if you thought that was a fluke, you are sadly mistaken, my friend. The Aces have steamrolled through the WNBA season thus far winning 14 of their first 15 contests, which is the best record in the league.
One of the reasons for the team’s hot start has to do with the play of its top forward A’ja Wilson. The Aces took Wilson as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft and her level of play has been nothing short of spectacular.
In her six years with Las Vegas, Wilson has career averages of 19.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per contest. And her production this season is right on par with those numbers as she is averaging 19.4 points, 9.0 rebounds, and a career-best 2.1 blocks per contest. Not only that, Wilson is shooting a career-best 53.6 percent from the field. So, not only is she a capable scorer, but she also does it in an efficient manner.
A’ja Wilson – Five seasons in the WNBA
Since she arrived in the WNBA five seasons ago, Wilson has racked up several accolades along the way. She was the league’s Rookie of the Year in 2018. She has been named to five All-Star teams. She has three All-WNBA nods to go along with two All-Defensive teams. Last season she won her second MVP award and was named the league’s top defensive player as well. This was just the fifth time in WNBA history that a player won both the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards. It is also worth noting that Wilson was named the Most Value Player of the FIBA World Cup for a USA squad that went on to win the gold. And her consistent contributions have certainly not gone unnoticed by the front office.
“A’ja Wilson is a generational talent and a huge foundational piece to our team and organization,” Aces general manager Natalie Williams said in a statement, via ESPN. “We are thrilled to have her re-sign and be here in Las Vegas for the next two years.”
Extension to pay $200,000 for both seasons
It is being reported that the two-year extension will pay her $200,000 for both seasons. This price tag is significantly lower than the supermax salary she could have asked for. This would have included $241,894 in 2023 and $249,244 in 2024. However, Wilson is merely continuing the trend of what other star players on the team have done in recent years. The objective is to allow the front office to put together the best roster possible to compete for a championship each season.
High level games in Las Vegas
Despite setting for less than what she could have potentially demanded, Wilson appears to be at peace with her decision.
“When the Aces made me their first-ever draft pick, they entrusted me with a lot,” Wilson said, via CBS Sports. “I’m happy to still be in Las Vegas, winning games, playing at a high level, but also being a part of a community that has embraced me and my teammates over the past six years, and made this city a second home for me.”
There are a couple of positives from this recent development. Wilson, who is a generational talent by all metrics, will be with the team through 2025. The Las Vegas Aces also have Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young, and Chelsea Gray under contract through the end of the 2024 WNBA season.
A’ja Wilson – Eight in scoring, seventh in rebounding and second in blocked shots
Wilson’s current season numbers place her in eighth in scoring, seventh in rebounding, and second in blocked shots. This is no small feat, by any means. And if the Las Vegas forward can maintain this level of production for the remainder of the season, she will join a short list of players who have averaged 19 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks per contest while shooting 50 percent or better from the field. That rare-air list includes Lauren Jackson, Candace Parker, and Sylvia Fowles. That said, Wilson will certainly be in good company should she pull off that feat.
As it was previously mentioned, the Las Vegas Aces have posted 14 wins in 15 games at the time of this writing. This included a pair of seven-game winning streaks, which is impressive. The Aces are the highest-scoring team in the WNBA – averaging 93.1 points per contest. They have the second-best scoring defense, giving up just 77.7 points per outing. Furthermore, the Aces have the highest point differential in the league as well (plus-232). The only other two WNBA teams to accomplish this through the first 15 games of a season were the 2000 Houston Comets and the 2019 Washington Mystics. And both teams went on to win the title in each of those seasons.
In the final analysis, the Las Vegas Aces made a smart choice in re-signing Wilson now instead of allowing her to become a free agent at the end of this season. The best team in the league bringing back a player who has the potential to go down as one of the greatest players in the WNBA is certainly a win-win for both sides.