Stephen Chambers/Guy Tee Photos
An’ Ja Wilson has so many things she wants to achieve in her career that she may soon be on the WNBA’s all-time great list at just 26 years old.
The race for the 2022 WNBA MVP basically boils down to the Las Vegas Aces and the Seattle Storm’s Brianna Stewart. The winner will join Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie, Lauren Jackson, Candace Parker and Elena Delle Donne as the only players in league history to win the award multiple times.
“Being on the list with them is an honor in itself,” Wilson told Bleacher Report. “Obviously winning it means the whole world, but at the same time I also want a championship. There are a lot of things I still want to check that list. But winning another MVP would be a blessing, of course, to be the best player in our game. It’s definitely an honor to be one of the greats.”
Wilson has won the 2020 MVP and her Four All-Star selections on her resume as she continues to exceed expectations that were already high when the Aces selected her with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft.
The 2022 campaign has been another great season for her, averaging 19.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.9 Blocks and 1.4 steals while shooting 50.1 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from the field extended her offense beyond the 3-point line for the first time in her career. Averaging 21.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game, Wilson Ace won the league’s first seed with a score of 26-10.
Seattle is the fourth seed at 22-14. “It was very important for us because we had the season and we took a little hit halfway through the adversity,” Wilson said of finishing at the top of the standings. “Everyone’s saying ‘they peaked early’ and so on. It’s cool to end up as the No. 1 seed, even though it really doesn’t make a lot of sense because it can be anyone’s game any day. But Knowing it’s really special and it’s been a very historic season for us and we’ve had a lot of fun.”
Las Vegas started 9-1 before ending the regular season with a four-game winning streak, including Sunday’s victory over the No. 1-seeded Storm.
Kelsey Plum goes into takeover mode with 7 points in the final minute, Wilson with 25 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists , 2 steals and 1 block filled the stat sheet. It was fitting to see how they became the first teammates in WNBA history to score more than 700 points apiece in the same season.
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Let me be clear: Aja Wilson doesn’t need 25 points, 10 rebounds, the most important defensive possession of the game today , 5 assists, 2 steals and 1 blocked shot to win the WNBA MVP. Regardless, she did it all while helping her team to the No. 1 seed. There is no debate.
With a leading duo and supporting cast of Jackie Young and Chelsea Gray scoring 33 points in a win over Seattle, the Aces are in championship-or-lose mode though All-Star Dirica Hamby is out with a knee injury.
Wilson said: “People have put it on me since my rookie year” while discussing these championship expectations , but the Aces are already close to appearing in the 2020 WNBA Finals and the 2019 and 2021 semifinals.
Considering that Becky Hammon led them to a With the best record in the league, perhaps this time Becky Hammon’s sideline will change their playoff fortunes.
“It was a lot of fun playing under Becky,” Wilson said. “You can tell if her knees were a little bit better she would want to go with us too. She just loves the game so much and her basketball IQ is out of this world.”
While Las Vegas hired Harmon ahead of the 2022 campaign, after playing in eight of the six-time All-Star’s 16 games, With her jersey retired, she was already a franchise legend playing for the San Antonio Silver Stars in the WNBA and later an ace.
Hammon came to Las Vegas with a wealth of coaching experience to serve as the NBA San Antonio Spurs Assistant coach after 8 seasons. It was a groundbreaking tenure that saw her become the first woman to serve as a full-time assistant in the NBA, the first woman to serve as a summer league head coach, the first woman to be a member of the All-Star Game coaching staff, and the first After Gregg Popovich was ousted, a woman became the acting head coach in one game. However, this may be Harmon’s ability to get along with her players in their first together During the season, Wilson was most notable.
“I think the biggest surprise for me was how cool she was honestly,” the MVP candidate said. “I saw her at Spurs and she was really cool, but playing under her now, she’s so fun. She just wants to have fun and always joke around. That’s what we love about her the most. She Can resonate with us because she used to sit in the locker room and she knows what it’s like to pause in key games.”
Harmon to break barriers, something Wilson did off the court as the first female athlete to sign with the Ruffles.
New official WNBA chips add her to LeBron James, Jayson Tatum and Anthony Davis List of athletes included.
“It means a lot of being the first female athlete to sign because I know I’m the first , but I won’t be the last,” she said. “Just being a stepping stone out there is incredible. Now knowing they’re official chips at W, it’s like the worlds are colliding. I think of it as a snack freak’s dream, but honestly, it is. I’m in chips, Everyone knows Ruffles, everyone must have it.”
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Photo Credits: Frills
Wilson’s partners include her own The iconic flavor Ruffles Ridge Twists Smoky BBQ, inspired by where she came from.
“It was so much fun to finally see the smoky BBQ and my face on the bag,” she said. “Of course I have South Carolina roots. Barbecue is always good in the South, especially in South Carolina. So just knowing it’s a twist and not a regular potato chip, it’s special because it stands out from the crowd Different.”
Different is also a way to describe the new WNBA playoff format, with all eight teams in The season with the top two seeds in the first round after six games has a single-elimination bye. This year’s first round will be the best – three series, the first two games by more Good seed hosting, which means Wilson and the top-seeded Aces may have to play a decisive Game 3 on the road against the eighth-seeded Phoenix Mercury. WNBA @WNBA
The first round starts Wednesday, August 17th on ESPN 2 🤩 pic.twitter.com/iwULG82YTP
While Las Vegas may be without Hamby at least in the first round, Mercury Having dealt with adversity all season, a far cry from the lineup that knocked out the Aces in the semifinals last season. As detailed by ESPN, Brittney Griner has been imprisoned in Russia since February, Tina Charles left the team in June, Diana Taurasi was sidelined with a limb injury and Skylar Dickins-Smith left the team for personal reasons.
Given this reality, the Aces are expected to advance to the team they beat 3-0 in the regular season.
Yet Wilson said they’ll have to focus when the series starts on Wednesday.
“The most important thing is that we can be ourselves, be ourselves,” she said. “Now is the time when you really need to lock down who you are as a team and who you really are. That’s the beauty of it. We can go back and say ‘we wish we had this’ and they could say ‘we wish we had this’ That,’ but at the end of the day, we just have to come together and when the ball goes up, play our game.”
If the Aces do that, Wilson might be able to take the WNBA champ off her roster as well.