Championship or bust for Las Vegas' Aces
Updated: May 22, 2021
After being the best team in the Wubble but falling short of a WNBA title, it’s championship or bust for this year’s Las Vegas Aces.
Last year’s team finished with the league’s best record at 18-4 averaging a league-best 88.7 points per game.
In addition, the team was third in points allowed per game with 80.1 ppg.
Moreover, Vegas ranked second in both offensive (109.6) and defensive rating (99.0).
Forward A’ja Wilson was named Most Valuable Player for the first time in her career after posting 20.5 ppg, 8.5 rebounds per game and two blocks per game.
In addition, forward Dearica Hamby was named the 6th Woman of the Year for the second straight year after averaging 13 ppg on 54 % shooting from the field.
The playoff run began with a five-game series win against the Connecticut Sun but it would end by being swept by the Seattle Storm in the WNBA Finals.
However, that’s all in the past now as the Aces have re-tooled and re-shaped their entire roster from top-to-bottom.
This includes Nikki Fargas being newly-named the General Manager of the team.
Adding back center Liz Cambage back into the fold with an MVP in Wilson.
Cambage returns at 29 years old and is heading toward her athletic prime entering her fifth WNBA season and her second with Vegas.
When last seen, she averaged 15.9 ppg on 50% shooting to go along with 8.2 rpg.
This year’s team will be without franchise staple in guard Kayla McBride, who is now in Minnesota.
McBride played her entire seven-year career with the Las Vegas franchise.
Her production is expected to be replaced by guard Chelsea Gray, who is slightly younger and enters the Aces’ locker room with a championship ring from her days with the Los Angeles Sparks.
Guard Riquna Williams was quoted as saying the Aces’ are receiving the “WNBA’s Magic Johnson.” Pretty high praise from a former Spark herself who joins only Cambage as 50-point scorers in WNBA history.
Gray and Williams will serve as more veteran presence and leadership for young guard Jackie Young who is entering her third WNBA season.
The Aces will be getting an added boost with the return of guard Kelsey Plum, who missed the 2020 season with a torn achilles.
However, the team will be without long time scoring leader Angel McCoughtry, who suffered a torn ACL in the final scrimmage against the Sparks prior to the start of the season.
McCoughtry is 34 years old and will be rehabbing an ACL tear for the second time in her career.
In 2018, she suffered her first ACL injury, forcing her to miss the 2019 season.
This is expected to be the third season that McCoughtry will miss due to injury or rest. She sat-out the 2017 season in favor of rest.
Not only the Aces have re-tooled and re-shaped their rosters, as many other teams in the league have restructured theirs as well.
The champion Storm have only gotten better but will need to make up for the loss of forward Natasha Howard who is now in New York.
The Washington Mystic will be re-gaining former MVP Elena Delle Donne who opted to sit-out last season’s Wubble experience in addition to guard Natasha Cloud.
Future Hall-of-Famer Candace Parker has found a new team in her hometown Chicago Sky, joining guards Courtney Vandersloot and Diamond DeShields.
In addition, league staples like Phoenix, Minnesota and Connecticut are also expected to compete as potential title favorites
The league's 25th season begins Friday, May 14 with new uniforms for all teams.
Vegas opens its season Saturday, May 15 in Seattle against the Storm.