Becky Hammon came to the Las Vegas Aces with the intention of coaching her team to a WNBA Championship. So far, the Aces are on track to meet that goal.
Las Vegas is off to a 13-2 start this season, and DraftKings Sportsbook lists the Aces as the +120 favorite to win the WNBA title this year.
Aces starters carrying the load
The Aces hold the best record in the league, 2.5 games better than the Connecticut Sun, who told the Eastern Conference with a 12-5 record.
Best 10-game start to a @WNBA coaching career 👏@BeckyHammon has earned #WNBA Coach of the Month honors for the month of May! #ALLIN ♦️♠️ pic.twitter.com/KKnQrfn8tR
— Las Vegas Aces (@LVAces) June 1, 2022
Las Vegas jumped out to its hot start based on star power rather than depth. Kelsey Plum leads the team in scoring with 20.1 points per game, while A’ja Wilson contributes 18.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per contest. Fellow starters Jackie Young, Dearica Hamby, and Chelsea Gray are all scoring in double figures as well.
Beyond that, few players are contributing significantly. Other than Theresa Plaisance, who started twice while Young was out with a sprained ankle, nobody else has gotten a start for the Aces. The Las Vegas bench averages just 9.8 points per game – the lowest total in the WNBA – and the team has won three times without scoring a single bench point.
That’s a result of a change in tactics that Hammon instituted this year. Hamby and Plum are playing more minutes as starters rather than competing for more Sixth Women of the Year honors. In other words, Hammon put her best players on the court as much as possible – not a revolutionary strategy, but one that’s paid dividends.
Las Vegas excelling with Hammon, without Cambage
The Aces lead the league in point differential, outscoring opponents by 9.7 points per game. They’ve done all this without four-time All-Star center Liz Cambage, who moved to the Los Angeles Sparks in the offseason via free agency.
“They’re playing a different style because they don’t have to clog the middle going to the post,” Westgate SuperBook oddsmaker Jeff Sherman told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Becky Hammon has got this team playing more of an NBA-style perimeter game. It’s definitely an improvement from where they were last year.”
The only real concern for the Aces is that lack of depth. If more injuries crop up, or if fatigue becomes a factor in the playoffs, then other teams could surpass Las Vegas in the title race.
The Sun (+350) rank as the second choice to win the title, ahead of the defending champion Chicago Sky (+450). The Sky will take on the Aces in the second edition of the Commissioner’s Cup on July 26, which carries a $500K prize pool for participating players.
The Seattle Storm (+650) also rate highly as a title contender. Seattle started the year 10-6, second in the Western Conference behind Las Vegas.