Throughout the history of the WNBA, there have been a handful of teams that have produced a core group that has included some of the most illustrious talent in the game. The Houston Comets that won the first four WNBA titles had Sheryl Swoopes, Cynthia Cooper, Tina Thompson and Kim Perrot. The New York Liberty had Rebecca Lobo, Theresa Witherspoon and Kym Hampton. The Chicago Sky last year had Candace Parker, Kahleah Copper, Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley. Now the surging Las Vegas Aces have all the tools to be able to carry on that tradition of excellence.
As the highly-favored Aces contend for their first WNBA championship against the Connecticut Sun, they are not only in prime position to do just that, but also to become the biggest draw in the league. They have the unquestioned talent and strong comradery that championship clubs are made of. Beginning with head coach Becky Hammon, who in her first season at the helm, guided the Aces to the best record in the league at 26-10 as well as the coveted Commissioner’s Cup on July 26. As a result, she was named the 2022 Coach of the Year, becoming only the third former player to win the award.
She is also blessed with one of the most dynamic rosters in the league, which includes three No. 1 draft picks that are all in their prime. League MVP A’ja Wilson is having her best season ever. She averaged 19.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.4 steals in the regular season and was named the Defensive Player of the Year. She is the essence of versatility and can effectively contribute at both ends of the floor. Then there is the stern but spirited Kelsey Plum, the All Star game MVP and one of the best 3-pointer shooters in the league who has taken her game to another level this year. Plus, Jackie Young has come into her own in her fourth year and was named as the 2022 Most Improved Player.
Perhaps the biggest breakout player, at least in the postseason, has been tenacious Chelsea Gray. After being denied a spot in the All-Star Game on July 10, she took that slight and channeled it into late season success. She was named the MVP of the Commissioner’s Cup, scoring 19 points, grabbing four rebounds, and dishing out five assists. Those strong numbers have only gotten better into the postseason. She is averaging 23.6 points and shooting a remarkable 61.1 percent from the field. On Sept. 6, Gray scored 31 points, attained six rebounds and garnered 10 assists in the clinching Game 4 of the…