Aces vs sun
Photo Credit: Bleacher Report

FSM Presents: Las Vegas Aces 2021 Season Preview: A’ja Wilson

Franchise Sports Media

 

FSM’s Cole Huff continues with our Las Vegas Aces coverage for the 2021 season with part 10 of his player preview series. This week’s focus is on center A’ja Wilson.

 

A’ja Wilson Bio:

A'ja Wilson 3
Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

Measurements: 6’4; 195 lbs

Age: 24

Position: Forward

Years Pro: 4

Season Stats: 2019 → 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists on 48.0/ 0.0/ 78.1 shooting splits 

Playoff Stats: 2019 → 20.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists on 47.3/ 50.0/ 85.7 shooting splits

 

CONDENSED RECAP:

The Las Vegas Aces were one of two teams left standing at the conclusion on the 2020 WNBA Bubble, and A’ja Wilson was largely the reason for that. Wilson, 24, was recognized for such a feat by being named the 2020 WNBA MVP — the first Aces player to receive that honor. On the season, she averaged 20.5/ 8.5/ 2.0 before seeing those numbers jump to 20.8/ 8.9/ 2.4 in the playoffs, where a depleted Aces roster would fall short to the Seattle Storm.

 

STRENGTHS:

 

A'ja Wilson FG Makes
Photo Credit: – WNBA.com

If you’re looking for a unique go-to scorer, A’ja is your girl. The lefty has a knack for getting to her spots and operating seamlessly against almost any kind of defender — as verified by her top-two finish in points per game during the 2020 WNBA season. Inside the three-point line, there’s honestly not a single spot where she isn’t capable of getting the job done.

In 2020, Wilson’s made field goals were pretty dispersed throughout the three areas inside of the three-point line. Of her 166 makes in total, 64 came in the restricted area (RA), 59 in the non-RA paint, and 43 from the mid-range. And the reason you see success in most areas is her unique combination of size and skill.

Wilson is a strongly built 6’4 forward that capitalizes on great positioning in the post to beat other forwards — hence the 75 percent shooting in the restricted area. However, I think her biggest strength is her touch as a shooter, which allows her to function as a scorer against different defenders. From the looks of things, the tape shows Wilson being most comfortable catching on at the elbows or free-throw line where she has enough space to survey the court and then proceeding to get her spots.

WEAKNESSES:

In an evolving game where positionless basketball is becoming more and more of a regularity, players are showcasing their versatilities by playing a multi-dimensional game. The most visibly obvious form of this is that players are stepping behind the three-point line — something that A’ja Wilson has yet to do. Take that with a grain of salt, though; Wilson isn’t necessarily a “weak” three-point shooter, it’s just that she doesn’t take them. However, it appears to be something that she’s worked hard at, and we might see transfer over to games once the season begins. 

That added addition to her offensive arsenal would further open up both her game and the Aces shooting — something that the team has lacked for a few seasons now.

 

POTENTIAL ROLE:

 

Similar to what I wrote during my preview of Aces center Liz Cambage, Wilson’s numbers will probably fall a bit in comparison to her MVP season due to the amount of talent that will be surrounding her. Yet, please make no mistake about it, she is the reigning MVP for a reason, and year two alongside Cambage should be even better than it was during year one. If the Aces can make a WNBA Finals run, I’d expect to hear A’ja Wilson’s name quite a bit in MVP talks.

 

Stay tuned for the latest news surrounding your Las Vegas Aces as they open their season Saturday, May 15th, against the defending chapion Seattle Storm.

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-Cole Huff– Franchise Sports Media

Follow Cole on Twitter @ColeHoops

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