2018 Season Preview: Five Reasons To Watch The Las Vegas Aces Work

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2017 Record: 8-26, did not qualify for Playoffs

Key Offseason Moves

  • Re-signed Kayla McBride, Sydney Colson, Sequoia Holmes, Cierra Burdick and Valeriane Ayayi
  • Acquired Kelsey Bone in trade with Phoenix
  • Signed free agents Carolyn Swords and Tamera Young
  • Selected A’ja Wilson with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft
  • Announced Isabelle Harrison is taking indefinite leave of absence

2017 Season Highlights

Las Vegas Aces Top 5 Plays from 2017 Season

1. The Start of A New Era

This franchise has been part of the WNBA since Day 1, beginning as the Utah Starzz from 1997-2002. After six seasons in Utah, the team relocated to San Antonio, where they were first known as the Silver Stars and eventually just the San Antonio Stars. After a 15-year run in San Antonio, the franchise has a new home to begin the 2018 season as the Las Vegas Aces. The WNBA will open in its new city on Sunday, May 27 when the Aces have their regular season debut against the Seattle Storm at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

2. A Team on the Rise

Las Vegas inherits a team that has struggled in recent seasons, accumulating 23 total wins over the past three seasons. As a result, the Aces have stacked the deck with high draft picks over the past few years, assembling a young core that can grow together to help turn the franchise’s fortunes around. The work began in the backcourt with Kayla McBride (2014 No. 3 overall pick), Moriah Jefferson (2016 No. 2 overall pick) and Kelsey Plum (2017 No. 1 Pick), before turning the attention to the frontcourt with the No. 1 pick in the 2018 Draft.

3. A’ja Wilson’s Debut

With the first selection in April’s Draft, the Aces has their choice among a talented group of prospects, but there was no doubt as to which player would be headed to the desert this spring. A’ja Wilson, the 6-4 power forward from South Carolina, swept all of the NCAA Player of the Year awards as she capped off a brilliant collegiate career at South Carolina. She brings a combination of size, strength and athleticism that makes her a prototype power forward in today’s WNBA. She’s strong enough to battle in the post, she’s skilled enough to work from the perimeter and either get to the basket or shoot from the outside and she’s athletic enough to get up and down the court in transition. Of course, she will have some growing pains as all rookies do in this league, but she has the pedigree to make a quick transition to the pro game.

4. Kelsey Plum’s Follow-Up

Wilson is the second of back-to-back No. 1 overall picks for the Aces as 2017 top pick Kelsey Plum returns for her sophomore WNBA season. Plum had an up-and-down rookie campaign as she was slowed by injuries, varied playing time, and inconsistent production with her shot (34.6%). As the all-time leading scorer in the history of NCAA Division I women’s basketball, Plum definitely has the skill to score in this league. How will she bounce back after averaging 8.5 points as a rookie? Will a new setting and new system help unleash her game? Plum’s development along with continued growth from Jefferson and last year’s No. 5 overall pick Nia Coffey will go a long way toward the Aces finding success in 2018. The Aces have a very young squad with just two players with more than four years of WNBA experience – newcomers Tamera Young and Carolyn Swords – which places added value on player development for the new regime.

5. Bill Laimbeer’s Impact

In making the move from San Antonio to Las Vegas, there was sweeping change throughout the organization. Not only is their new ownership, a new city and a new identity, but there is a new person calling the shots both on the court and behind the scenes. Bill Laimbeer joins his third WNBA team with head coaching and general manager duties. He is in charge of putting the roster together, then taking that roster and helping them succeed on the court. Laimbeer is a two-time WNBA Coach of the Year, with three championships on his resume. Laimbeer’s teams have made the playoffs in nine of 13 seasons that he’s been in the league. The Aces have not been in the postseason since 2012. How fast can Laimbeer and the Aces end that five-year playoff drought?