A’ja Wilson is absolutely wrecking everyone in her path and starting to separate herself from the pack as the MVP favorite. At first, she was battling teammates Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young (who are still having awesome seasons). Alyssa Thomas and Jonquel Jones from the Sun remain in the mix.
But Wilson’s raising her play to another level, upping her productivity from her first MVP season. Her first statement game came on Saturday against the Sparks when she dropped 35 points on 13-of-23 shooting with 11 rebounds, four blocks and two steals.
I mean lmao:
What a night 🎰
— Las Vegas Aces (@LVAces) June 12, 2022
I won’t bore you with stats, but let’s talk about some of them
The Aces offense under Bill Laimbeer was never bad, but under new head coach Becky Hammon, it’s undeniably awesome with all of the starting five able to move freely, shoot from wherever, and adhere to a more modern 3-point-happy approach.
Sliding to the center position is new for Wilson, who’s spent the last few years paired with a true big like Liz Cambage. With little room for Wilson to navigate next to another inside presence, those pairings resulted in some great offensive nights and some awful ones.
Now, Wilson’s unlocked. After taking two 3-point shots in her first four seasons, she’s taken 26 in 14 games, and though she’s only made seven, the threat of her shot is spacing the floor for teammates and allowing her to play more off-the-dribble! It’s no wonder Wilson’s making nearly 7% more of her shots at the rim than ever before. She’s getting better looks at the basket!
This is Wilson’s most impressive season (so far)
Wilson averaged 20.5 points in her stellar MVP year, and though she’s only scoring 18.1 now, she’s doing so on more impressive shooting. She’s making 50.8% of her shots (a career high) from the field despite taking more shots from long range! She’s scoring more efficiently!
Counting stats aren’t everything for a variety of reasons. And while it may look like she’s not rebounding as well as years prior, it’s not the case. She’s playing two fewer minutes per game, and if you figure how many rebounds she’s snagging every 100 possessions she’s on the floor, she’s corralling a career-best 15.9. Her blocks per 100 possessions (4.1) tell the same story.
Don’t overthink the slight dip in Wilson’s still extremely strong stats. It’s a product of what the Aces are executing on the offensive end — quicker and more efficient shots — and Wilson’s nailing her role there on top of being a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
She’s the best player on the best team in the WNBA to date.