The Las Vegas Aces are expecting to be without forward A’ja Wilson for a matter of weeks after she sprained her left ankle in a 69-66 loss against the Seattle Storm on Friday.
A’ja was the first pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft, and went on to win the league’s Rookie of the Year honor last season.
No Timeline for Return of Wilson
This year, Wilson is averaging 15.8 points per game to go along with 6.7 rebounds, and was set to be one of the two captains for the WNBA All-Star Game next Saturday in Las Vegas. That upcoming All-Star break could limit the impact of the injury, as the Aces only have two more games in the month of July.
The injury occurred early in the third quarter against the Storm. Wilson attempted to block a shot from Seattle guard Jordin Canada, but landed awkwardly. While the Aces took a break the other way, Wilson stayed on the floor, and had to be helped to the locker room once play was halted.
While the team has yet to set a timeline for her return, losing Wilson for an extended period of time could prove to be a major blow for the Aces. Las Vegas currently leads the Western Conference with a 12-6 record, but four other teams are within 2.5 games of first place at the moment.
Wilson is one of the Aces’ three main scoring threats, alongside Liz Cambage and Kayla McBride. All three are scoring just over 15 points per game on the season.
WNBA Suffers as Stars Fall
Given the length of Wilson’s expected absence, Aces coach Bill Laimbeer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Sam Gordon that the team might consider picking up another player in free agency. That likely won’t happen until Aug. 5, however, after which players can sign for the remainder of the season.
Bookmakers aren’t too worried about the injury yet, at least not in terms of evaluating Las Vegas’ odds of winning a WNBA Championship this year. FanDuel Sportsbook still lists the Aces at +240 to win the title, just behind the Washington Mystics (+210) at the top of the board, and ahead of other contenders like the Connecticut Sun (+350) and Los Angeles Sparks (+750).
The injury comes in a season in which the WNBA has seen several of its top stars go down. That started before the year even began, as reigning MVP Breanna Stewart of the Storm was ruled out for the season after rupturing her right Achilles tendon while playing for Russian club Dynamo Kursk in the EuroLeague Final Four championship.
The other All-Star Game captain, Washington’s Elana Delle Donne, also missed three games recently due to a broken nose. The six-time All-Star is averaging 17.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game this season.