The Las Vegas Aces no longer resemble the unstoppable force they appeared to be when they roared out of the gate to a 13-2 start. But despite some recent losses, oddsmakers still see the Aces as the team to beat in the WNBA this season.
DraftKings Sportsbook lists the Aces as the +175 pick to win the 2022 WNBA Championship as of Monday night.
Defense letting Aces down in recent slump
Las Vegas has gone just 2-5 since that torrid start under new head coach Becky Hammon. The Aces no longer hold the best record in the WNBA – the Chicago Sky have surpassed them by a game – and only lead the Seattle Storm by a half-game in the Western Conference.
Still, Las Vegas is far from panic mode. Star forward A’ja Wilson is scoring 18.5 points per game and averaging over 10 rebounds, leading DraftKings to make her the +140 favorite for WNBA MVP this year. The team has added depth – their main weakness early in the season – and can run out a lineup with five All-Star quality players that leads the league in most offensive categories.
However, the Aces have struggled lately on defense. Las Vegas is only sixth in defensive rating and 10th in points allowed. That could hurt the Aces come playoff time when key defensive stands down the stretch often spell the difference between wins and losses.
The good news for Las Vegas is that there’s plenty of time to get things back on track.
“I don’t think we’ve played our best basketball yet,” Hammon said, via the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “And really, nor do I want to be. I want to be playing our best basketball in August and September.”
The defending champion Chicago Sky (+225) rate as the second choice to win the WNBA Championship this year. Their 16-6 record now leads the league, and Chicago is coming off hosting the WNBA All-Star Game where Sky guard Allie Quigley won her fourth three-point contest.
Sky, Storm, Sun all eying WNBA Championship
Chicago is scoring 85.9 points per game, second only to the Aces. However, their defense has been stouter, allowing opponents an average of just 80.1 points. Six Sky players are scoring in double figures, a balanced attack that’s difficult for opposing defenses to deal with.
The Seattle Storm (+400) continue to be a threat to win another title as well. At 15-8, the Storm have closed the gap with the Aces in the Western Conference and will be in the hunt for the top seed come playoff time. Seattle has won 10 of its last 13 games and is heading in the right direction down the stretch.
“We’re right where we want to be,” Seattle guard Jewell Loyd told reporters after a Thursday win over the Sparks. “We’re excited. The hunger and the focus is to get better every day and work on our goals to win a championship.”
The Connecticut Sun (+400) share the same odds as the Storm, but have muddled along as of late, losing four of their past six games. While the Sun started the year as one of the best offensive teams in the league, they’ve struggled to score during their recent skid. However, with three All-Stars in the lineup – Brionna Jones, Jonquel Jones, and Alyssa Thomas – Connecticut should be able to get its offensive woes figured out before the playoffs.