Las Vegas Aces’ Bond On And Off The Court Leads To Success

Jul 5, 2023, 9:13 AM

Las Vegas Aces...

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 01: Jackie Young #0, Kelsey Plum #10, Chelsea Gray #12, A'ja Wilson #22 and Candace Parker #3 of the Las Vegas Aces walk back on the court after a timeout in the third quarter of their game against the Connecticut Sun at Michelob ULTRA Arena on July 01, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Aces defeated the Sun 102-84. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Candace Parker sees a lot of similarities between the Las Vegas Aces and the 2016 Los Angeles Sparks team she played for that won a WNBA title.

A lot of it has to do with the friendships the players share off the court.

“Our team was really, really close,” said Parker, who came to Las Vegas as a free agent in the offseason. “I don’t think it’s by accident that you have success on the court when you’re cool off the court.”

The Aces sit at 15-1 after routing both New York and Connecticut, which have the next two best records in the league. That’s the best start to a season since Los Angeles went 20-1 in 2016.

“In terms of the mentality of this team it reminds me a lot of 2016,” Parker said. “It was just business-like game to game. It didn’t matter the result, it was whether we did what we were supposed to do.”

If the Aces keep playing the way they are, they have a chance to approach the 1998 Houston Comets team that went 27-3 for the highest winning percentage in league history.

With the core group of A’ja Wilson, Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young signed through 2024, this team could be really good for a long time. The Aces announced Wilson’s two-year extension last Friday. Wilson, Gray and Young are starting in the All-Star Game in Las Vegas on July 15. Plum was named a reserve Saturday.

Las Vegas has been winning by an average of 15.6 points a game and is playing a very unselfish style of basketball, averaging 22 assists a game — second in the league behind New York.

“We just like sharing the ball,” Aces guard Chelsea Gray said. “We have a lot of really good passers and really good scorers.”

The Aces, who have won eight straight games, are unbeaten at home this season and remain atop the AP WNBA power poll.


New York moved into second place in the poll after beating Connecticut on the road last week. The Sun fell to third. They were followed by Washington, Dallas and Atlanta. Chicago was seventh with Minnesota and Los Angeles next. Indiana was 10th as Seattle and Phoenix rounded out the poll.

Coaching Carousel

Chicago’s James Wade stepped down as coach and general manager on Saturday to take an assistant coaching position with the Toronto Raptors. That means that Cheryl Reeve is the only coach to hold her current position for more than two years. She took over in 2010. Every other team in the WNBA has changed its coach since Seattle hired Noelle Quinn in June 2021.

Wade’s departure was the second coaching change in the past two weeks after Phoenix fired Vanessa Nygaard on June 25.

Player of the Week

Minnesota’s Napheesa Collier averaged 26.7 points, nine rebounds, and 2.3 blocks to help the Lynx win all three of their games last week.

The Lynx swept a home-and-home set with Seattle and beat Phoenix. Other players receiving votes included Kelsey Plum of Las Vegas, Breanna Stewart of New York, Satou Sabally of Dallas, and Courtney Williams of Chicago.

Griner Watch

Brittney Griner and the Phoenix Mercury have a two-game road trip to New York and Minnesota this week before playing at home against Los Angeles on Sunday.

Griner didn’t play on the team’s last trip to New York a few weeks ago because of a hip injury.

She returned on June 24 and has continued her stellar season averaging 19.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks.

Game of the Week

Dallas at Las Vegas, Wednesday. The Aces can almost assuredly wrap up the Western Conference spot in the Commissioner’s Cup with a win over the Wings.

Las Vegas would have a three-game lead over Minnesota with three games left. The Aces beat the Lynx in the first meeting and hold an overwhelming 164-point lead in point differential between the teams.

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Las Vegas Aces’ Bond On And Off The Court Leads To Success