Las vegas aces
Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

FSM Presents: Las Vegas Aces 2021 Season Preview: Kelsey Plum

Franchise Sports Media

 

FSM’s Cole Huff kicks off our Las Vegas Aces coverage for the 2021 season with his player preview series. Cole will do an in-depth scouting report on Aces players. We kick off the series with guard Kelsey Plum.

 

 

Kelsey Plum Bio:

 

Measurements: 5’8; 145 lbs

Age: 26

Position: Guard

Years Pro: 5 (Kelsey Plum missed the 2020 WNBA season due to a torn Achilles tendon)

Season Stats: 2019 →  8.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists on 36.5/ 37.7/ 87.2 shooting splits

Playoff Stats: 2019 → 15.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 7.8 assists on 49.2/ 52.9/ 100 shooting splits

 

CONDENSED RECAP:

 

The last time we saw Kelsey Plum playing in a Las Vegas Aces uniform was in game 4 of the WNBA semifinals against the eventual-champion Washington Mystics. After having a breakout postseason, the former No. 1 pick of the 2017 WNBA draft looked to carry that momentum into the 2020 season. Instead, Plum underwent surgery in June of 2020 to repair an Achilles tendon injury that would cause her to miss the entire 2020 season.

Good news: Kelsey Plum was a participant in the USA Basketball Women’s National Team minicamp this past February. She’s back on the court and all signs point to her being ready for the 2021 WNBA season.

 

STRENGTHS:

 

Las Vegas Aces
Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

Plum has proven to be a good three-point shooter over the course of her three seasons played in the W. Including her five postseason games, she’s knocked down 39.3 percent of her looks from beyond the arc on decent volume (3.4 attempts per game). The bulk of her damage comes as a spot-up shooter as she is usually the beneficiary of drives-and-kicks, or kick-out passes from her teammates.

With the addition of all-star point guard Chelsea Gray, one of the league’s premier playmakers, more open looks from the perimeter are certainly on the horizon for Plum — which will be a great boost for an Aces team who has ranked at the very bottom in that department over recent seasons.

Defensive box scores usually don’t tell the story the way the offensive stat line does, so it’s not shocking that Plum’s 0.7 career steals per game don’t capture her traits on that end of the court. Her uniqueness as a smaller defender is displayed in her ability to defend the pick and roll — using her quicks and intellect to maneuver over and around ball-screens.

With her lack of length, she’s sometimes unable to impact shots, but she does an admirable job of being pesky and competing throughout the game to make opposing players uncomfortable.

 

WEAKNESSES:

 

Wilson, Plum, Gray
Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

Standing at 5’8, Plum fits the build of a point guard but plays more like a 2. That’s no knock on her, it’s just been a challenge for Plum, the all-time leading scorer in Division 1 women’s college basketball, to translate her scoring ways over to the WNBA. I wouldn’t expect a sudden jump in production across the board, but relieving some of her play-making abilities to Chelsea Gray and veteran wing Angel McCoughtry will free up Plum to be more of the scorer that she was in her Washington Huskies days.

Speaking of play-making, Plum’s assists per game were at a career-low 3.0 during the 2019 regular season; although likely a result of the Aces’ style of play — running a lot of their actions through the post. However, she did manage to drum up 39 assists over five playoff games (7.9 avg) with those same teammates. But 7.9 is a lot to ask, and likely is unsustainable for a career 3.5 assists per game player. Lineups and roles within those lineups will ultimately dictate what kind of progression will be made in the passing department.

 

 

 

POTENTIAL ROLE:

 

Plum served as the Aces’ 2019 starting guard for 30 of the team’s 34 regular-season games, and came off of the bench for the first two playoff games before being reinserted to the starting lineup. While she did have immediate success during her brief stints in the sixth-woman role, the Aces couldn’t afford to not have her production to start games — especially the all-important playoff games. On top of that, Aces head coach Bill Laimbeer moved second-year guard Jackie Young to a reserve role during the 2020 Wubble where she thrived alongside back-to-back WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year Dearica Hamby. With Young recently finding success as a key reserve, my best guess is we’ll see Plum back with the starting unit where she’ll look even more comfortable with a second season next to Liz Cambage, and reigning WNBA MVP Aja Wilson.

 

Starting lineup or not, Plum is going to soak up her usual share of minutes and will be on the court when it matters most. It’ll be a treat to see Kelsey Plum back in an Aces uniform in 2021.         

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-Cole Huff– Franchise Sports Media

Follow Cole on Twitter @ColeHoops

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