The Las Vegas Aces built themselves into a perennial contender under head coach Bill Laimbeer. Now, former San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon will try to lead them to their first WNBA Championship in 2022.
The Aces come into the 2022 season as the +350 favorite to win the WNBA Championship, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
Hammon finds her place in Las Vegas
Las Vegas has finished first overall in the WNBA regular season in each of the past two seasons. But the Seattle Storm swept them in the final in 2020, while the Phoenix Mercury beat the Aces in five games in the semifinals last year.
Now, Hammon will try to take perhaps the most talented team in the WNBA and deliver a title to Las Vegas.
“They know the past, they know the present and they have a clear vision for the future,” Hammon told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, speaking of the Aces organization. “At the end of the day, I knew this was the place for me.”
The Connecticut Sun (+400) rate as the second choice to win the WNBA Championship. They bring back a deep squad led by defending WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones. Like many teams, however, the Sun have struggled with the hard salary cap, which led to Connecticut – and several other franchises – only carrying 11 players in total on their roster.
In the case of the Sun, that means cutting rotation member Kaila Charles, among other moves.
“What the general public forgets at times, it’s not always about the best 11 players, it’s the best 11 players that fit under your salary cap,” Sun head coach and general manager Curt Miller told The Hartford Courant. “The best 11 players aren’t always the best 11 that fit under the salary cap.”
Sky seeks to defend WNBA Championship
The Chicago Sky enter as a +450 pick to defend their WNBA Championship. They added 2019 Finals MVP Emma Meesseman to a team that had already won a title, making them even more dangerous heading into the 2022 season.
“When you have success, everyone comes back wanting more individually and not wanting to sacrifice and not wanting to do the things that you did previously to win a championship,” Chicago forward Candace Parker told reporters. “I think that’s kind of the barrier that we’re going to have to talk about and have to overcome.”
The Seattle Storm (+500) have won the WNBA Championship in two of the past four years, with Breanna Stewart winning Finals MVP on both occasions. Stewart comes into the season healthy, and the team is back in its permanent home of the Seattle Center. The Storm will attempt to make one more title run with Sue Bird, who could finally retire at the end of the season.
Finally, no discussion of the WNBA Championship contenders can wrap up without talking about the Phoenix Mercury (+600). The Mercury will start the season without center Brittney Griner, who is currently in detention in Russia for allegedly carrying vape cartridges with hashish oil into a Moscow-area airport.
The WNBA is showing support for Griner by installing decals in her honor on all 12 home courts throughout the league.