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WNBA Draft 2018 Preview: Las Vegas Aces

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, Tamera Young and Ivey Slaughter

Last Year’s Draft Picks (as San Antonio Stars):

  • 1st Round/No. 1 Overall – Kelsey Plum
  • 1st Round/No. 5 Overall – Nia Coffey (from Phoenix)
  • 3rd Round/No. 25 Overall – Schaquilla Nunn

This Year’s Draft Picks:

  • 1st Round/No. 1 Overall
  • 2nd Round/No. 13 Overall
  • 3rd Round/No. 25 Overall
  • 3rd Round/No. 32 Overall (from Phoenix)

2017 Season Highlights

Las Vegas Aces Top 5 Plays from 2017 Season

Team Needs/Draft Strategy:

While much has changed for this franchise in the past year – new city, new identity, new ownership, new coach and general manager – one thing remains the same: For the second straight season they hold the top pick in the WNBA Draft.

Last year, the San Antonio Stars took guard Kelsey Plum – the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer – with the No. 1 pick. This year, the Las Vegas Aces and coach/GM Bill Laimbeer have their choice among a talented group of prospects, with all signs pointing to National Player of the Year A’ja Wilson of South Carolina heading to the desert.

With a backcourt full of young talent – 2014 No. 3 pick Kayla McBride (who signed a multi-year deal in the offseason), 2016 No. 2 pick Moriah Jefferson and 2017 No. 1 pick Plum – the Aces have looked to add frontcourt talent this offseason. They acquired center Kelsey Bone in a trade from Phoenix and signed free agent center Carolyn Swords to join Isabelle Harrison on the frontline. Adding a talent like Wilson, who averaged 22.6 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.2 blocks as a senior, will provide yet another piece to the foundation of this team.

The Stars/Aces had the lowest-rated offense a season ago (95.3 points/100 possessions; 74.4 points per game). They also led the league in turnovers (16.4 per game) and attempted the fewest 3-pointers (14.3) and third-fewest free throws (13.4) in the league. Adding more perimeter shooting to the lineup will be key to improving their offensive efficiency, and the Aces have multiple picks to try to land a shooter.

In addition to the No. 1 overall pick, the Aces also hold the top pick in each of the final two rounds along with a late third-rounder. They will look to accumulate more talent to compete for roster spots, or use the picks as trade bait to land some veteran help to accompany this young roster. Free agent signees Swords (six years) and Tamera Young (10 years) are the only players on the roster with more than four years in the WNBA.

After consecutive seasons of eight, seven and eight wins, the Aces have plenty of work ahead of them as they look to climb from the cellar and into playoff contention. Laimbeer has taken a team from worst to first before (Detroit in 2003). Now with his third WNBA franchise, what tricks does the two-time WNBA Coach of the Year have left in his bag? Perhaps an Ace up his sleeve.